Pentagon Admits Civilian Was Killed in 2023 Syrian Strike, Not Al Quaeda Leader

On Thursday, the Pentagon acknowledged a regrettable occurrence involving the accidental death of a civilian during an airstrike in northwest Syria in 2023. It happened because American troops mistakenly thought the individual was a high-ranking al Qaeda official.

The unfortunate death of a 56-year-old Syrian shepherd in a U.S. drone attack last year has been confirmed by an internal review. His unfortunate misidentification as a terrorist commander underscores the persistent difficulty the Pentagon has in avoiding accidental deaths.

American troops accidentally attacked and killed a civilian named Mr. Lufti Hasan Masto instead of the designated Al Qaeda target, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).

Even though the attack was conducted in compliance with the laws of armed conflict and the rules of the Department of Defense and CENTCOM, the review did reveal several areas that may be improved.

In the attack that occurred in northwest Syria on May 3, 2023, the United States military first claimed credit for the elimination of a senior al Qaeda official. Masto ended up being the one targeted instead.

American authorities quickly withdrew their statements that a significant al Qaeda member had died, and by November, they had wrapped up their investigation. But they didn’t come forward about mistaking Masto for an al Qaeda official until Thursday.

An armed Predator drone was reportedly keeping tabs on Masto before American soldiers fired a Hellfire missile near his home and poultry farm.

Pentagon officials pledged in January 2022 to do more to prevent civilian deaths and to be more transparent when such tragedies do happen.

The order was given after a string of widely reported drone attacks by the United States prompted tremendous public outcry and close examination. Among them was an August 29th strike that did not succeed, killing ten people—seven of them children—in Kabul, Afghanistan. More than a hundred women and children were killed in a 2019 assault in Syria.

After conducting rigorous examinations, the Pentagon pledged to resolve and minimize similar instances while promoting openness in 2022.