Aleppo mosque airstrike controversy: ‘US only considers sources credible when it suits them’
Conflicting reports on an alleged airstrike on an Aleppo mosque won’t change the Pentagon’s attitude towards the various shady “activist” groups they cite as “reliable” sources when it suits them, says retired US AF Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski.
While US Central Command (Centcom) acknowledged that it did carry out a deadly airstrike in the Aleppo province on Thursday, it stressed that the attack had targeted an Al-Qaeda meeting. However, eyewitnesses, as well as organizations that Washington has previously cited as credible sources – including the White Helmets, Bellingcat, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – reported that a nearby mosque had been hit. Over 50 people were reportedly killed in the air raid, which destroyed a mosque filled with worshippers in the village of Al-Jinah at the provincial Idlib-Aleppo border.
RT:The Pentagon has admitted that the airstrike was targeting a site 15 meters (about 50 feet) away from the mosque. If that was the distance, is it possible that the mosque could have been left undamaged?
Karen Kwiatkowski: I think we would have seen some damage, even if they would have hit that close. And, also, it seems it may be like a part of the mosque complex, it seems they are playing semantics with the targeting.
RT:The US disagreed with the groups they had previously relied upon as something they called “credible sources.” How do you assess the situation now?
KK: This [is] publicity game. They have their war; they have their targeting; they’re doing what they are doing as far as American foreign policy. This is not clear, what the American foreign policy is, but Trump has certainly unleashed the military to “proceed with it,” whatever it is. So, the media is just one more tool. If they can find somebody to verify what they want to put out, then the White Helmets report would be fine, otherwise they’re not credible. I think, really, it’s almost otherworldly, the way that reporting on the war and the battles and the fighting and the bombing has been.
RT:Washington has remained pretty quiet on this. Do you think we will hear any comments or anything about a possible investigation?
KK: I think there probably will be an investigation, but again, it’s the military, the Pentagon investigating itself. I’m not sure how accurate, how useful, the results of that will be. The only thing, I guess, you can hope for is that if this targeting was an error, or somehow had some errors associated with it, if it was unintended, the bad publicity may be enough to have the word go out “we have to do a better job.”
I don’t think that the US military is reckless, per se. I think they are responsive to bad publicity, but I don’t really trust their internal investigations. It’s all part of the same media game that they play.
RT:Another thing Washington has remained really silent about are the reports coming from sources of rather questionable credibility. These reports don’t suit them this time. Will the Pentagon quote their reports in the future?
KK: Absolutely. The White Helmets have been notoriously unreliable on a lot of things, and yet the US military, the Pentagon, has been very happy to reference them as a credible resource in the past, and I’m sure in the future they will as well. This is a media game. We have really limited access, limited objective media on the ground in Syria or, for that matter, in Iraq or Yemen, where we are also dropping bombs and killing people – both innocent and guilty ones. It’s just a part of the game, their publicity game. They are constantly dancing on the head of a pin.
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