Investigation launched by Washington into fatal civilian casualty in Syria raid targeting al-Qaeda leader

CNN reported, citing US Department of Defense officials, that the US military would launch an official investigation into the raid in Syria after reports that a civilian had died in place of an al-Qaeda commander.

And CNN quoted U.S. officials as saying the U.S. military plans to launch a formal investigation into a drone operation in Syria in early May after reports were received that a civilian, not a prominent leader, had died in Syria. reportedly al-Qaeda announcing the trial for the first time.

According to CNN, the launch of this investigation, known as 15-6, is the clearest indication that CENTCOM may have failed in this raid in northwest Syria, as did immediately after the raid, Central Command Commander Gen. Michael Corella and his team were very confident that they had killed a prominent leader of al-Qaeda, although they knew that it would take several days to receive confirmation of the target due to the lack of an American presence in this part of Syria, while the American Central Command announced the operation on Twitter without naming a target, and promised in a tweet that Corella led to announce more information, but a month and a half after the initial tweet, US Central Command did not release any other information about the operation or clarify its purpose.

And CNN pointed out that there is still some disagreement within the US administration over the identity of the slain, as some intelligence officials still believe the target was an al-Qaeda member, while there is growing conviction within the ministry Department of Defense (Pentagon) that the man killed was a non-terrorism farmer as family members of the man who died in the raid identified him as Lotfi Hassan Mista, a 56-year-old father of 10 children, and said he was killed while tending sheep.

For his part, US Central Command spokesman Michael Lawhorn indicated that the investigation process is ongoing, but there are no updates at the moment.

It comes just a week after The Washington Post began providing executives with information that raised questions about whether a civilian was killed and not a terrorist.

“This report recommended the launch of a formal investigation, including a more in-depth investigation of the incident led by an investigator, with detailed requirements for the scope of the investigation and a final report,” CNN reported.

It has been learned that the recommendation to initiate such an investigation is an acknowledgment that questions about the process remain unanswered, as command approval is required to commence investigation 15-6.

In the case of the May 3 raid, that authority came from General Matthew McFarlane, commander of the combined Operation Unwavering Resolve, which is dedicated to fighting the Islamic State.

The incident has raised questions about the accuracy of Central Command’s implementation of the Civilian Damage Mitigation Policy during military operations, which is a process designed to prevent civilian casualties, as the policy was developed in 2022 after a failed U.S. drone raid in Kabul that killed 10 civilians in the last days of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, in this case CENTCOM launched a formal investigation into the 15-6 strike within a week of the strike.

It is noteworthy that after the May operation in Syria, Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin “has full confidence” in the department’s efforts to reduce damage to the civilian population.

He continued: “Very few countries in the world are doing this and the Minister is fully confident that we will continue to adhere to this policy.”

Source: CNN

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