Washington: A media outlet report has claimed that the US military concealed an airstrike in Syria in 2019 that led to the deaths of dozens of civilians, including women and children.
The New York Times report, based on a recent investigation carried out by the newspaper, said the strike next to a town called Baghuz, was one of the largest civilian casualty incidents of the war against the Islamic State (IS) terror group, Xinhua news agency reported.
But the US military never publicly acknowledged it, said The New York Times report.
The newspaper found out that after the strike, an initial battle damage assessment quickly found that the number of fatalities was actually about 70, including dozens of women and children, and the death toll was immediately reported to military officials.
A legal officer flagged the strike as a possible war crime that required an investigation. But the military made moves that concealed the catastrophic strike at nearly every step, according to the report.
“The death toll was downplayed. Reports were delayed, sanitized and classified. United States-led coalition forces bulldozed the blast site. And top leaders were not notified,” it added.
During a press briefing at the Pentagon on Monday, spokesman John Kirby said that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has asked the commander of US Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie for a briefing on the 2019 airstrike.
McKenzie had taken took over Central Command days after the strike, CNN reported.
“No military in the world works as hard as we do to avoid civilian casualties,” Kirby said.
“Doesn’t mean that we don’t always get it right, we don’t, but we work hard to avoid civilian harm.”