Syria’s My Lai? US massacred 70 civilians and covered it up, by Aaron Maté

This is probably just the tip of the iceberg in Syria. From Aaron Mate at mate.substack.com:

After killing dozens of Syrian civilians in a 2019 bombing, the US military exonerated itself and concealed evidence. It’s the latest scandal for a shadowy US war in Syria that has evaded oversight.

Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. US military officials watched the Baghuz massacre here via drone footage in real time. (US Air Force)

The New York Times has exposed one of the US military’s worst massacres and cover-up scandals since My Lai in Vietnam.

On March 18, 2019, amid a battle with Islamic State fighters, the US Air Force bombed a crowd of civilians taking shelter near the town of Baghuz, Syria, killing a reported 70 people. The attacks occurred within a 5-minute span: an initial strike, and then another with heavier bombs as survivors fled. The Times’ Dave Philipps and Eric Schmitt report:

Without warning, an American F-15E attack jet… dropped a 500-pound bomb on the crowd, swallowing it in a shuddering blast. As the smoke cleared, a few people stumbled away in search of cover. Then a jet tracking them dropped one 2,000-pound bomb, then another, killing most of the survivors.

US military personnel in Qatar watched the attack in real time via a surveillance drone at the scene. The high-definition footage showed that only two or three armed men were near the crowd, and were not engaging in any kind of combat activity that would have justified a defensive military strike.

“Who dropped that?” a confused analyst typed on a secure chat system being used by those monitoring the drone, two people who reviewed the chat log recalled. Another responded, “We just dropped on 50 women and children.” An initial battle damage assessment quickly found that the number of dead was actually about 70.

Instead of accountability, “at nearly every step, the military made moves that concealed the catastrophic strike,” Philipps and Schmitt write. The site of the bombing was bulldozed; the unit that conducted the strike vindicated itself; key evidence was buried; military logs were altered; and investigations were stalled and subverted. Although the Pentagon’s independent inspector general managed to launch a probe, “the report containing its findings was stalled and stripped of any mention of the strike.”

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