US Admits Civilians May Have Been Killed in Syria Drone Strike

US killed unnamed 'senior' al-Qaeda figure

On Friday, a US drone strike in NW Syria killed an unnamed “senior” al-Qaeda figure. At the time, the US conceded that it was possible civilians were wounded. By Sunday, the US admitted it was possible civilians were killed as well.

The Pentagon is making these concessions, but also being extremely evasive with details about the matter. There have been reports from local doctors that a family of six civilians were wounded, though the deaths aren’t clear yet. The drone strike hit a man on a motorcycle, and the US very much wants to avoid saying who that was beyond a senior figure.

Recent US strikes mostly ended with a single statement, and a claim that there was no immediate indication of civilian casualties. That was it, and evidence tended to be ignored because it contradicted the official account.

The whole reason the US is under pressure to take extra looks is a report last month about a 2019 incident in which US airstrikes killed scores of civilians. The post-attack report systematically covered up the toll in public reports, while suggesting the classified toll was “shockingly high.”

There are checks in place meant to ensure these things don’t avoid oversight. Those reports show that in practice, it just forced a more elaborate cover-up effort.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.