US denies Aleppo mosque air strike

The Pentagon says it hit a building 15 metres from the mosque while showing a photograph of the mosque still standing and in tact.

Photo by: Reuters Archive
Photo by: Reuters Archive

A file photo of the aftermath of an air strike on a market in a district of Aleppo, held by rebels at the time. (October 12, 2016)

Updated Mar 17, 2017

A US air strike in northern Syria did not hit a mosque, rather a nearby building with "dozens" of Al Qaeda members inside, the Pentagon said on Friday.

"The mosque is still standing and relatively unscathed," Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said while showing reporters a photo of the strike's aftermath. He promised the image would be made available to the public.

Rescue workers have said that at least 42 people were killed and dozens injured on Thursday in an air strike on a mosque in the rebel-held village of Al Jina in Syria's northwestern Aleppo province.

Sources on the ground put the death toll at 58 and said it could rise as 200 to 300 people were in the mosque when it was hit.

The attack happened as the mosque was full of worshippers during evening prayer, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. 

TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan has more from Gaziantep, a Turkish city on the border with Syria.

The US military said it carried out air strikes very close to a mosque in Idlib province, but were targeting a meeting of al Qaeda militants. Al Jina is in Aleppo, but close to the border with Idlib province in northwestern Syria.

"We did not target a mosque, but the building that we did target, which was where the meeting took place, is about 50 feet (15 metres) from a mosque that is still standing," said Colonel John J. Thomas, spokesman for US Central Command.

Thomas later clarified that the precise location of the strike was unclear, but that it was the same one widely reported to have targeted the village mosque.

Al Jina is located in a rebel-held region of Syria. Its population has been swollen by refugees, UN agencies have said.

TRTWorld and agencies