The New York Times recently published a report that shows the U.S. military covered up war crimes in Syria in 2019 when it dropped bombs on a crowd of civilians, killing about 80 people.
According to the report, on March 18, 2019 a U.S. military drone was flying over the town of Baghuz, Syria, searching for military targets. But below it only identified a large crowd of mostly women and children. Then, out of the blue, an American attack jet dropped a 500-pound bomb on the crowd, covering it in a cloud of dust and smoke. Then, as a few of the people who were still alive tried to limp away to safety, another attack jet dropped a 2,000-pound bomb, and then one more, killing most of the survivors.
According to the report, while the bombing was happening, military personnel stationed at a U.S. base in Qatar saw the drone footage in real time and were shocked. They communicated over a military message board, “Who dropped that?” and “We just dropped on 50 women and children.” According to initial estimates, 70 people were killed. After the strike, civilian observers “found piles of dead women and children,” according to the Times reporters.
The report explains that this was likely one of the largest incidents of civilian death during the eight years of conflict in Syria up to that point in time, and it met all of the criteria for being a war crime. The U.S. military did everything they could to bury any investigations of the massacre, concealing evidence, bulldozing the blast site, classifying information, and lying about the death toll. And military reports about the conflict at that time were often intercepted by senior military leaders and edited to remove any mention of the strike.
After viewing the Times report, U.S. Central Command finally issued a statement. According to the Times, it stated that “80 people were killed but the airstrikes were justified,” and “the bombs killed 16 fighters and four civilians.” And “as for the other 60 people killed, the statement said it was not clear that they were civilians, in part because women and children in the Islamic State sometimes took up arms.” So even to this day, the U.S. military is still trying to justify this atrocity.
The only reason any of this information has come out is because of the investigation from the reporters at the Times. Without their investigation, the world would likely have no idea about this massacre. Who knows how many such incidents have occurred? And the only reason anyone knows about this one was because there was drone footage of the bombing. How many other atrocities like this are being carried out on a regular basis with no cameras to record the events? Since September 11, 2001, the civilian death toll from known drone strikes has been estimated at 48,000 people. But who knows how many more thousands have been killed and covered up?
The U.S. military tries to portray itself as a so-called “force for good,” but this massacre reveals the truth about the U.S. military around the world: it is a force that murders and terrorizes countless civilians, lies about it, and covers it up.