US Military Admits It Killed a Civilian in May 2023 Drone Strike in Syria

There's no sign there will be any accountability for the killing of Lufti Hasan Masto, a father of 10 who was hit by a hellfire missile while tending his sheep

US Central Command (CENTCOM) acknowledged on Thursday that its forces killed a civilian in a May 2023 drone strike in northwest Syria, walking back its initial claim that it killed an al-Qaeda leader.

Lufti Hasan Masto, a 56-year-old father of 10, was hit by a Hellfire missile on May 3, 2023, in a rural area of Syria’s northern Idlib province while tending his sheep. Evidence surfaced immediately that the US killed a civilian with the strike, but CENTCOM put out a statement claiming it killed an al-Qaeda leader even though who died wasn’t confirmed at the time.

CENTCOM said the investigation concluded on November 15, 2023, and it’s unclear why the command waited until now to make it public. “The investigation determined US forces misidentified the intended Al Qaeda target and that a civilian, Mr. Lufti Hasan Masto (Masto), was struck and killed instead. Many of the facts and other findings of the investigation involve classified information and cannot be shared publicly,” CENTCOM said in a press release.

There’s no sign there will be any accountability or punishment for the killing since the command claimed the investigation “concluded the strike was conducted in compliance with the law of armed conflict as well as Department of Defense and CENTCOM policies” and said it revealed “several issues that could be improved.”

US drone strikes have a history of killing civilians, but there is never any accountability. For example, after the Pentagon investigation of the August 2021 Kabuil drone strike that killed 10 civilians, including seven children, no military personnel were punished.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.