US Airstrike Hit North Syria Mosque, Killing Scores

Pentagon Says Attack Meant to Target al-Qaeda Meeting Nearby

by Jason Ditz, March 17, 2017

New evidence is emerging on yesterday‘s bombing of a mosque in the Northwest Syrian village of al-Jineh, in the Aleppo Province, with reports of rising death tolls and recovered pieces of the bomb showing that it was, in fact, a US airstrike.

The Pentagon had initially denied that they had attacked the mosque, but did claim that they attacked an “al-Qaeda meeting” right across the street from it. They even went so far as to speculate that someone else might’ve just happened to bomb the mosque around the same time.

The recovery of US bomb fragments from the mosque, however, changed this narrative, with CENTCOM now promising an investigation into the attack on the mosque. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 42, mostly civilians, yesterday, but the mosque had over 300 people inside at the time of the attack, and some are reporting the toll has risen to around 75 civilians.

On the border between Aleppo and Idlib Provinces, al-Jineh is in rebel-held territory, and the Pentagon’s claims regarding the strike suggest they believe the village is held by al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, or at least used by them as a meeting place.

It wouldn’t be particularly unusual for Nusra to use a mosque as a meeting place, though in this case it appears they did not do so, and simply happened to be nearby. Given the small size of al-Jineh, most of the buildings of any size are likely at least relatively close to the mosque.

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