Wed, 29 Jun 2022

by Hummam Sheikh Ali, Wang Jian

HASAKAH, Syria, May 21 (Xinhua) -- Syrians slammed a recent Pentagon inquiry which rejects accusation that the United States covered up civilian deaths in Syria, saying the United States has been targeting civilians in Syria for long.

In the government-controlled parts of the northeastern province of Hasakah, where the United States has several bases in the Kurdish-controlled zones, Syrians expressed dismay and anger at the Pentagon's claims that U.S. forces were not responsible for a massacre that took place in the town of Baghouz in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour in 2019.

They accused the United States of violating human rights, stealing Syrian resources and endangering the lives of civilians.

Many had even witnessed innocent civilians living in northern and northeastern Syria being killed by U.S. strikes targeting Islamic State (IS)-controlled areas.

Ghaleb al-Anzi, a displaced man from the countryside of Deir al-Zour, told Xinhua that the United States doesn't care about protecting civilians in Syria since he had witnessed what it did.

He said that civilians in Deir al-Zour had been targeted by all kinds of weapons fired by the United States in wars ostensibly targeting IS but which destructed homes and infrastructure, displaced civilians and killed many.

Al-Anzi said the United States struck Baghouz without a flinch.

"There is no law in the U.S. Army to protect civilians. Everyone is targeted by the United States which uses heavy and light and all kinds of weapons. The United States doesn't abide by anything called human rights ... As Syrian citizens, we are all targeted by the U.S," al-Anzi said.

Abdulkarim Dlaimy, another displaced man living in Hasakah, told Xinhua that he was displaced because of the U.S. strikes in northeastern Syria, adding that there is no safety in U.S.-controlled areas.

Dlaimy said the United States spearheaded the massacre in Baghouz, which was targeted by the U.S.-led coalition.

He slammed the U.S. claim of protecting civilians, saying that the United States should have opened safe passages for civilians to flee IS-controlled areas before sending a barrages of gunfire to kill all living things on the ground.

"If the United States came to protect the civilians, it would have withdrawn from Syria because as long as the United States stays here, there will be no protection for the civilians," he added.

Ghassan Khalil, the governor of Hasakah, told Xinhua that the United States had leveled several towns in northern and northeastern Syria without any consideration for the civilians living there.

"The U.S. presence in Syria is illegitimate. They created illegitimate bases and also prisons. They stole the harvests of wheat and the oil reserves and practiced all kinds of things that run against the people's rights in the eastern region," he said.

"The practices of the U.S. occupiers are hostile and are incompatible with the international law," he stressed.

The New York Times had reported that the U.S. Air Force carried out a raid on March 18, 2019 on a camp housing the families of IS terrorist fighters in the Baghouz area of Deir al-Zour, killing nearly 70 civilians, including women and children. However, the Pentagon claimed that most of the killed were IS fighters.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in his press conference on Tuesday that 52 IS fighters were killed in the raid, including one boy. He said that four civilians -- a woman and three children -- were also killed.

He said that 15 civilians -- 11 women and four children -- were wounded, adding that the investigation did not conclude that any person should be held responsible.

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