A confirmed US airstrike on a militant group reportedly linked to Al Qaeda also possibly killed or injured a number of civilians.
According to Step News, 12 or more members of new group Hai’at Tahrir al Sham were killed in a raid targeting a meeting on the edges of Sarmin.
As Step News explained, “Hai’at Tahrir al Sham was formed on 28th of the past month under the leadership of Abu Jaber al Sheikh and it includes many factions most notably Fatah al Sham Front and Nour al Din al Zanki movement, and came after the attacks carried out by the front on several factions in rural Idlib and Aleppo, notably Soukour al Sham which has recently come under the banner of Ahrar al-Sham movement.”
While most reports said only fighters died, both LCCSY and Ara News also reported civilian casualties.
The Pentagon confirmed on February 8th that it had carried out the attack, though made no reference to civilian harm.
In its monthly civilian casualty report for October 2019 – published on December 5th of the same year – the US-led Coalition assessed this event as ‘non credible’, noting: “February 3, 2017, in Sarmin, Syria, via Airwars report. After a review of all available records it was determined that, more likely than not, civilian casualties did not occur as a result of a Coalition action. 2475/S422 37SBV948575”.
The Coalition published a location for the assessment identifying to within 100 metres the area where it had focused its review.
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (23) [ collapse]
Attached to this civilian harm incident is the Pentagon's declassified assessment of this civilian harm allegation, obtained by Azmat Khan and the New York Times through Freedom of Information requests and lawsuits filed since March 2017, alongside the corresponding press release published by the Pentagon. Airwars is currently analysing the contents of each file, and will update our own assessments accordingly.
US-led Coalition Assessment:
Civilian casualty statements
Dec 5, 2019
February 3, 2017, in Sarmin, Syria, via Airwars report. After a review of all available records it was determined that, more likely than not, civilian casualties did not occur as a result of a Coalition action. 2475/S422 37SBV948575
Original strike reports
The Pentagon reports that “On Feb. 3, one U.S. strike killed 10 terrorists in a building being used as an al-Qaida meeting place.”