First Published: 2017-03-17

US denies targeting Aleppo mosque
Centcom claims deadly air strike on Al-Qaeda meeting in northern Syria, says will investigate air raid on mosque that killed 42 in Aleppo.
Middle East Online

Who hit the mosque?

WASHINGTON - The US military said Thursday it carried out a deadly air strike on an Al-Qaeda meeting in northern Syria and would investigate reports that more than 40 civilians were killed when a mosque was struck in the raid.

"We did not target a mosque, but the building that we did target -- which was where the meeting took place -- is about 50 feet (15 meters) from a mosque that is still standing," said Colonel John J. Thomas, spokesman for US Central Command.

According to a Centcom statement, "US forces conducted an airstrike on an Al-Qaeda in Syria meeting location March 16 in Idlib, Syria, killing several terrorists."

The Centcom spokesman later clarified that the precise location of the strike was unclear -- but that it was the same one widely reported to have targeted the village mosque in Al-Jineh, in Aleppo province.

"We are going to look into any allegations of civilian casualties in relation to this strike," he added, when asked about reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that 42 people died, most of them civilians.

At least 42 people were killed and dozens more wounded on Thursday in air strikes on a village mosque in northern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"The raids by unidentified warplanes targeted a mosque in Aleppo province during evening prayers, killing 42 people, most of them civilians," said the head of the Britain-based Observatory Rami Abdel Rahman.

"More than 100 people were wounded," he said, adding that many were still trapped under the collapsed mosque in the village of Al-Jineh, just over 30 kilometres (20 miles) west of Aleppo.

The village is held by rebel and Islamist groups, but no jihadist factions are present.

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

Footage published by Halab Today, an online media group focused on news in Aleppo, showed piles of rubble where the mosque allegedly stood.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began six years ago with anti-government protests.

A cessation of hostilities was brokered by rebel backer Turkey and regime ally Russia in December, but violence has continued across much of the country.

The Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria for its information, says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to type, location, flight patterns and munitions used.

But the skies over Aleppo province are busy, with Syrian regime and Russian warplanes as well as US-led coalition aircraft carrying out air strikes.

Russia began a military intervention in Syria in September 2015, and in the past has dismissed allegations of civilian deaths in its strikes.

 

France, US clash with Iran over changing nuclear accord

Saudi Arabia claims killing of Yemen rebel leader

EU to Russia, Iran: Bring Syria to peace talks

Iraq's Shiites split ahead of crucial vote

Iraq’s ex-football stars from sports to politics

Turkey opposition journalists demand acquittal in terror trial

UN says Syria blocking humanitarian aid to Douma

OPCW experts visit second site of alleged Douma gas attack

Israeli policeman gets 9 months jail for killing Palestinian

US court rules for Arab Bank in precedent-setting case

Lebanese candidates pay hefty price for media coverage

Madani’s resignation sheds light on Iranian power play

Kuwait expels Filipino ambassador over treatment of workers

Syria aid donations for 2018 fall short of amount hoped

Growing anti-war sentiment in the US Congress could spell trouble for Trump

Liverpool’s Salah wins Israeli defence minister’s plaudits

Body of assassinated Palestinian driven through Malaysian capital

'Gap in perceptions' threatens wider Middle East war

UNESCO picks Morocco for project on prevention of violent extremism

Syrian regime retakes region near Damascus from rebels

Mogherini: Iran deal 'needs to be preserved'

Syria rebels prepare as Assad sets sights on next target

Iran's Rouhani questions 'right' to seek new nuclear deal

Trump, Macron call for 'new' nuclear deal with Iran

Syria's Idlib 'big new challenge' for international community

UNRWA chief says Palestinian aid $200 million short since Trump cuts

Bad memories resurface at Raqa’s mass grave

Turkey newspaper chief slams journalist terror trial

Setback for Yemen rebels after strike takes out leader

Saudi issues Islamic sukuk sale to finance deficit

Yarmuk, an epicentre of Syria's bloody conflict

Egypt’s Eurobond succeeds but risks remain

Egypt former anti-corruption chief gets five years jail

Philippines apologises to Kuwait over 'maid rescues'

Iran urges EU not to pay Trump ‘ransom’ over nuclear deal

UAE to finance project to rebuild Mosul's Grand al-Nuri Mosque

EU, UN begin major conference for Syria aid

New tensions rise between old rivals Turkey and Greece

Rouhani warns Trump against betraying nuclear deal

10 killed in Toronto “deliberate” van attack

Nine people killed in Toronto van attack

Yemen Huthi political leader killed in coalition raid

Syria security chief refuses Lebanon court appearance

Air raid kills dozens at Yemen wedding

Algeria draws Europe’s ire by cutting imports, boosting trade with China