Fri, 01 Jul 2022

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The Pentagon's position on the 2019 Syrian strike is dangerous. It not only demonstrates lax U.S. regulations that should have protected civilian safety during wars, but also allows U.S. soldiers on the battlefield to commit indiscriminate killings because they know they will not face any punishment.

CAIRO, May 21 (Xinhua) -- Six months after a media investigation revealed that the U.S. military concealed a 2019 airstrike in Syria that killed dozens of civilians, a Pentagon internal investigation reached a somewhat contradictory conclusion early this week: while the military's initial review of the attack was mishandled, no disciplinary action is warranted.

In defense of the conclusion, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said on Tuesday that "yes, we killed some innocent civilians, women and children... It was in the midst of combat, in the fog of war."

The cold-blooded dismissal of any wrongdoing has once again demonstrated the U.S. hypocrisy, if not leniency, toward heinous war crimes committed by U.S. troops in other countries.

In the March 2019 strike near the Syrian town of Baghuz, a total of 80 people were killed, 64 of whom were believed to be civilians, including women and children, in one of the largest civilian casualty incidents in the U.S. war against the Islamic State (IS).

It was after the investigation by The Times last November that the U.S. Central Command, which oversaw the air war in Syria, acknowledged the strike for the first time.

The U.S. Central Command then claimed that 16 of the 80 people killed were IS terrorists and four were civilians, and that the remaining 60 might have been terrorists because "women and children in the Islamic State sometimes took up arms."

According to The Times, shortly after the strike, the U.S. Air Force lawyer, Dean Korsak, "believed he had witnessed possible war crimes and repeatedly pressed his leadership and Air Force criminal investigators to act."

"Two years after the strike, seeing no evidence that the watchdog agency was taking action, Colonel Korsak emailed the Senate Armed Services Committee, telling its staff that he had top secret material to discuss and adding, 'I'm putting myself at great risk of military retaliation for sending this,'" The Times reported.

© Provided by Xinhua

The Pentagon's position on the 2019 Syrian strike is dangerous. It not only demonstrates lax U.S. regulations that should have protected civilian safety during wars, but also allows U.S. soldiers on the battlefield to commit indiscriminate killings because they know they will not face any punishment.

This is the latest example of the U.S. concealing and whitewashing its crimes against civilians overseas, as well as its shameless attempt to shield its warmongers from international war crimes tribunals.

There are numerous instances of the U.S. killing of innocent civilians during its various wars and military operations against foreign countries. The most heinous crime against civilians committed by the U.S. military occurred in February 1991, when a single U.S. airstrike on a public shelter in Baghdad's Amiriyah neighborhood killed over 400 Iraqi civilians. The most recent incident occurred in last August, when a botched U.S. drone strike killed 10 civilians in Kabul, Afghanistan. No U.S. troops were punished.

In two decades of the so-called anti-terror war, the U.S. military "has killed hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians by accident in war zones like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia," but "rarely does it hold specific people accountable," said a New York Times report last December.

It is a disgrace that Washington portrays itself as a global champion of human rights defenders while displaying no remorse for its war crimes and even going to great lengths to conceal the truth.

The fundamental reason for the United States' audacious and reckless attacks on civilians around the world stems from its arrogance and disregard for international law: it always believes that it has the moral high ground, that its laws are superior to international laws, and that it can get away with any wrongdoing because it is the sole superpower.

It is past time for the international community to band together to seek justice for the countless innocent civilians killed by the U.S. military; otherwise, such atrocities will continue indefinitely.

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