Military Officials: Civilian Toll in Syria Raid
May Be Higher Than Initially Thought
The White House initially said an ISIS leader
detonated a bomb that killed civilians,
but officials now say that’s unconfirmed
Dave DeCamp / AntiWar.com
(February 10, 2022) — US military officials told reporters on Thursday that there could have been more civilian casualties than initially thought in the recent special operations forces raid in northwest Syria that targeted an ISIS leader.
When the raid first happened, President Biden and the Pentagon said ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi blew up himself, his wife, and two children on the third floor of a building once US forces arrived. But other sources said at least 13 people were killed. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said among the 13 killed were four children and three women.
The military officials admitted Thursday that they don’t know for certain if al-Qurayshi detonated the bomb that caused the explosion. They insist the blast was caused by someone in the building and wasn’t the fault of the US, but they admitted there is no video footage of the raid.
The officials also said they couldn’t rule out that more people than al-Qurayshi and his family died. They noted that “multiple bodies” ended up under rubble, and the US forces didn’t have time to count them.
The officials said a lower-level ISIS member was on the second floor of the building with five children. The US forces killed the ISIS fighter and his wife in a gun battle and were able to evacuate four of the children, but a toddler was found dead, and the cause of death was not clear.
The raid came amid heightened scrutiny over the high number of civilian casualties caused by US operations in the Middle East. Thursday’s briefing shows that the White House was not being truthful about the raid on al-Qurayshi right after it happened.
On the day the raid was announced, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said it was “confirmed” that al-Qurayshi blew himself up and scoffed at a reporter who asked for evidence.
The reporter mentioned that some people are “skeptical” about US claims when it comes to civilian casualties. Psaki fired back and asked if the skeptics thought ISIS was providing more accurate information than the US military.
“Well, not ISIS, but, I mean, the US has not always been straightforward about what happens with civilians. And, I mean, that is a fact,” the reporter responded.
Russia Says Israeli Airstrikes Are a
‘Crude Violation of Syria’s Sovereignty’
(February 11, 2022) — On Thursday, Russia said it has “deep” concerns over Israel’s ongoing air campaign in Syria, warning the continued airstrikes could escalate tensions in the region and threaten civilian air traffic.
“Israel’s continuing strikes against targets inside Syria cause deep concern,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. “They are a crude violation of Syria’s sovereignty and may trigger a sharp escalation of tensions. Also, such actions pose serious risks to international passenger flights.”
She said Russia opposes “attempts to turn Syria into a scene of armed confrontation between third countries.”
Israel claims its air campaign in Syria is meant to target Iran, but the airstrikes often kill Syrian soldiers. Syrian state media said one soldier was killed and five more were wounded in the latest Israeli attack, which happened Wednesday.
Russia has held talks with Israel on Syria, and in January, Russia said it would begin joint air patrols with Syria. The patrols will include areas near the Golan Heights, a frequent site of Israeli attacks, and Israel is said to be considering slowing the strikes.
A civilian victim of an Israeli air attack receives ttreatment.
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