The Pentagon said on Tuesday that its investigation into the 2019 US-led invasion of Syria, which killed scores of civilians, had not found any violations or reckless negligence.
An internal U.S. military investigation focuses on an operation by a special U.S. force operating in Syria that carried out an airstrike on an Islamic State base in Baghdad on March 18, 2019.
The investigation began last year after the New York Times reported that the U.S. military had covered dozens of non-combatant deaths in the main attack.
The Times reports that 70 people, including many women and children, were killed in the strike.
The Times reported that a U.S. law enforcement official had “identified the strike as a potential war crime” and that “in almost every case, the military has taken steps that concealed the catastrophic strike.”
But the final report of the investigation on Tuesday refuted that conclusion.
It said the commander of US ground forces for the anti-Islamic State coalition had received requests for air strikes from the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is fighting extremists.
The commander “confirmed that no civilians were in the strike area” and approved the strike.
However, they later learned that there were civilians there.
The investigation states that “there were no violations of the rules or laws of war.”
In addition, the commander “did not cause civilian casualties intentionally or by ignoring civilians,” it said.
The report said the “administrative deficit” delayed the reporting of the US military strike, giving the impression that it was being covered up.
The Times quoted an initial assessment of the incident as saying that about 70 civilians could be killed.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said 52 fighters had been killed, including 51 adult males and one child, and four civilians, including a woman and three children.
He said 15 more civilians, 11 women and four children were injured.
Asked if anyone was being punished for civilian deaths, Kirby said the investigation had found no one to be held accountable.
“The investigation did not find anyone working outside the law of war, there was no malicious intent,” Kirby said.
“Even though we don’t always get everything right, we try to improve. We try to be as transparent as possible about what we learn,” he said.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)