Centcom confirms airstrike against al Qaeda in Syria

People inspect a damaged mosque after an airstrike on Jeeneh in the Aleppo province northwest Syria
People inspect a damaged mosque after an airstrike on Jeeneh in the Aleppo province northwest Syria
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18 March, 2017

The airstrike also came a day after suicide attacks in the capital, Damascus, killed at least 30 people.

Al Jazeera's Natasha Ghoneim reports, "Right now, Syrian Civil Defense personnel are struggling to get people from under the rubble of a mosque in the village of Al Jinah in the western countryside of Aleppo province".

However, he said an investigation would be launched to determine whether any civilians had been killed or injured in the strike on what the U.S. military said was a meeting of al-Qaeda militants in the province of Idlib on Thursday.

The mosque was full of worshippers at evening prayers when the jets struck, the observatory said. The first responders and local activists reported a lower death toll, saying at least 20 people had been killed. "There is a mosque within 50 feet of that building that is still standing".

Armed opposition groups, Syrian government forces and its allies - including Russian Federation - and the US-led coalition should all make sure they adhere to the laws of war to reduce civilian loss of life.

Rescue workers struggled to pull survivors from rubble, and dozens of residents were still unaccounted for, the Observatory said.

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However, according to journalist Samuel Oakford, who was previously United Nations correspondent at Vice News, the USA central Command confirmed it had carried out a strike in relative close proximity to the mosque.

The village is held by Islamist groups, but the Observatory said no jihadist factions are present.

It was the latest example of a large, unexplainable gap between what the USA military and residents on the ground said was hit in a conflict where it is impossible for independent observers to be on the ground to assess what happened. "It was right after the prayer at a time when there is usually religious lessons for men in it".

It is not clear who exactly was behind the attack, but Russian and Syrian war planes fly in the region.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict with anti-government protests six years ago. Monitoring groups say the number is much higher.


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