Middle East expert Abbas Juma heaped scorn on the US for its unsanctioned air strikes in Syria, which have already claimed the lives of scores of civilians and Syrian Army soldiers.
On Friday, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted Syrian activists as saying that that at least 35 people had been killed in a rebel-held area in Syria’s Idlib as a result of a US airstrike that hit a mosque.
UK-based Syrian dissident Rami Abdulrahman put the death toll at 42, stressing that most of those killed were civilians. A US Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman, for his part, said that the US airstrike carried out in Idlib in northern Syria, did not target nor hit a mosque.
“We did not target any mosques. What we did target was destroyed. There is a mosque within 50 feet of that building that is still standing,” Col. John J. Thomas said, as cited by the New York Times late on Thursday, adding that the investigation would be conducted to establish whether civilians had been killed or injured by the strike.
Abbas Juma said that similar “mistakes” are made by the US and its allies on a regular basis, a fact he believes should be cause for alarm.
“These mistaken air strikes take place very often. Of course, this is a war and this is a battlefield, where anything can happen. But the frequency of such ‘mistakes’ that lead to dozens of deaths among civilians and Syrian Army soldiers and their allies, is very annoying both to me and other people,” he said.
“It seems to me that no one can guarantee that this will not happen again. I suspect that such ‘mistakes’ will occur regularly,” according to Juma.
He also noted that the mainstream media as a rule prefers to shift the blame for similar air strikes to Russia and the Syrian Army, in an apparent bid to demonize the political image of Moscow and Damascus.
“[When such incidents occur] the Western media quickly attacks Russia and they don’t care about the fact that half an hour after an incident, there will be thousands of confirmations that it was the US or the terrorists who did it. The main thing is that the ‘demonic’ background [the scapegoating of Russia and the Syrian Army] has been established. Regrettably, this is how mainstream media currently works,” Juma said.
In February, Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) said in a monthly report that the US-led coalition airstrikes have resulted in the unintentional deaths of 199 civilians in Iraq and Syria since 2014.
The coalition is still assessing 10 reports of civilian casualties related to separate airstrikes in September, November and December 2016.
The US-led coalition of 68 nations is conducting airstrikes, ground-based attacks and rocket-propelled artillery fire against the Daesh in Syria and Iraq.
The strikes in Iraq are being conducted in support of the Iraqi government, but those in Syria are not authorized by the government of President Bashar Assad or the UN Security Council.