The U.S. military acknowledged for the first time this week an air strike that massacred 64 Syrian women and children near the town of Baghuz in March 2019. This came after a New York Times investigation released last weekend revealed key details including the fact that the high casualties were immediately apparent to military officials and was even flagged as a possible war crime.
The Times report described that the heinousness of this drone strike was downplayed and sanitized in military reports. Gene Tate, a former Navy officer and civilian analyst with the inspector general’s office, highlighted a deliberate cover-up by military leadership.
Other declassified documents reveal a secret special operations unit, Task Force 9, that operated outside of the purview of the U.S. Air Force command for the region and called in the fatal air strike. But senior Air Force officers were alerted almost immediately — and they ignored any concerns and no serious investigation into criminal wrongdoing took place.
After the strike, Air Force lawyer Dean Korsak said that he alerted the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations but received only flippant and superficial responses. Korsak also said that he was told that the office investigated civilian casualty claims only where there is a “potential for high media attention, concern with outcry from local community/government, concern sensitive images may get out.” This confirms that the only reason the U.S. military is now acting despite having all the information all along is because of the possibility of media fallout, not because they actually care about their murderous destruction in a sovereign country.
Throughout the U.S. war on Syria, attacks like that on Baghuz were commonplace, claiming the lives of untold numbers of civilians. This new report highlights the callousness and the ease with which the U.S. military and secret task forces destroyed communities in Syria in their effort to overthrow the Syrian government, establish U.S. hegemony in the region and plunder Syria’s wealth. The true toll of U.S. cruelty in Syria is unclear but it is only a matter of time until the world finds out just how much destruction the U.S. wreaked.