Via America’s Lawyer: The US Secretary of Defense finally orders a probe into US airstrikes that killed civilians in Syria back in 2019. RT Correspondent Brigida Santos joins Mike Papantonio to explain why it took so long to investigate these deadly airstrikes, and whether we can expect to see any accountability in the ranks.
*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.
Mike Papantonio: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin knows he has a problem and the problem is civilian casualties are mounting up every time there’s a new operation, it seems like in the Mid-East, we hear some, a story like this. Brigida, why don’t you lay this out for us just a little bit.
Brigida Santos: Yeah. The public is only now learning about the previous undisclosed airstrike in Syria that killed about 80 people because reporters published an investigation based on confidential documents and witness testimony, forcing US central command to acknowledge it for the first time. Now, the airstrikes took place in 2019 in Bāghūz, Syria, just days before the fall of the Islamic state. An air force lawyer who witnessed the attack said he immediately flagged the strike as a possible war crime, because it is illegal to kill civilians. The DOD’s inspector general conclude, conducted an investigation, but that report was stalled and no mention of the strike was even included. So in light of these now very public allegations, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is launching a new investigation.
Mike Papantonio: Well, isn’t this something, I mean, you know, good for Lloyd Austin. Okay. You know, the truth is this was a product of pure incompetence. Children were killed, 70 civilians in, indirectly affected by this and it just seems to be a story that repeats itself. What’s your thought?
Brigida Santos: Yeah. And we keep seeing it repeat itself and the chances are slim to none that Task Force 9, which was in charge of the ground operations in Syria at the time, will be held accountable. CENTCOM has already justified the strikes claiming immediate action was necessary to protect allied troops from imminent threat despite military officers saying that no threat was present. It’s also unlikely that they’ll be punished because weeks ago the Pentagon revealed the findings of its investigation into the August drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians from the same family, stating that the military made quote, an honest mistake in confusing its civilian target with terrorists. We also haven’t seen any accountability for the deaths of nearly a million civilians that have been killed in Washington’s war on terror over the past two decades.
Mike Papantonio: Aren’t this, is this continuing in Syria? Aren’t we, don’t we, aren’t we still seeing strikes like this in Syria?
Brigida Santos: Yep. A family of six were just wounded in Northern Syria on Monday by a US airstrike targeting an Al-Qaeda leader. In response, a central command spokesperson says quote, we abhor the loss of innocent life and take all possible measures to prevent them. The possibility of a civilian casualty was immediately self-reported and we are initiating a full investigation of the allegations and will release the results when appropriate. But again, we see the US military investigating itself in another reported civilian casualty event and as we just covered, we’ve seen the outcome of it’s self investigations.
Mike Papantonio: We started with that first strike that we all remember that took place where we had seven children killed and it, my memory was that the, the, the family that was hit, the father was actually an aid worker there in Afghanistan. Did I get that right?
Brigida Santos: Yes. That was in Kabul back in August. That’s correct. It was an aid worker, a US aid worker from a company based here in Pasadena, in Los Angeles.
Mike Papantonio: Nobody’s been fired from that case, from what I understand. Thank you for joining me. Okay.
Brigida Santos: Thanks, Mike.