Radio Islam and Agencies | 20 Jumadal Ukhra 1438/19 March 2017
The deadly American airstrike on a mosque in Syria Thursday reportedly struck a Tablighi Jamaat gathering, it has been revealed.
Reporting from the scene in al Jina, independent journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem of On the Ground News debunked US suggestions that it had struck an ‘al-Qaeda’ meeting place.
“There was a Jamaatut Tabligh gathering which was taking place here last night just after sunset which happens every Thursday here at the same place for approximately 4 years.
“You’ll see here what is going on behind me and all around – the mosque was affected. There were drone airplanes that were circling overhead for approximately 2 hours before the airstrike took place. According to locals this is not a Fathus Shaam or Hayat Tahrirus Shaam facility. This is a Tablighi Jamaat facility, where they gather every Thursday for the past 4 years to give Dawah to the people”.
A subsequent report from Abdul Kareem showed rescue workers removing a number of martyrs who were still buried under the mosque’s rubble.
The incident occurred in the resistance-held village of al-Jina, southwest of Atarib near Aleppo in Syria. At the time of the incident, the mosque was full of worshippers with local activists saying up to 300 people were inside at the time of the air raids.
More than 50 persons were reported killed and dozens injured.
Captain Jeff Davis, a US defence department spokesman, confirmed US aircraft hit an “al-Qaeda meeting place” on Thursday in the village of al-Jina, Aleppo province, but denied that any bombs had hit a nearby mosque.
Major Josh Jacques, another US spokesperson told Airwars that its target in al-Jina was "assessed to be a meeting place for al-Qaeda, and we took the strike - it happened to be across the street from where there is a mosque".
He said the mosque was not the target, and that it was not hit directly.
Abdul Kareem indicated that there was no way to separate the claimed target of the US strike and the Masjid as the buildings were interlinked. His footage showed significant damage incurred by the mosque.
An AFP correspondent who visited the area on Friday said there are two Omar bin al-Khattab mosques in Al-Jina, adjacent to each other. The journalist claimed that the old one was damaged by the strike and the new one was totally destroyed.
Davis said the US military currently does not assess any civilian casualties - despite multiple reports from locals and activist groups that at least 50 people were killed and up to a hundred others were injured.
Video footage from Thursday evening showed White Helmets rescue workers picking through rubble from the part-demolished mosque.
Fragments of weapons reportedly found around the attack area, showed English lettering which the investigative group Bellingcat identified as corresponding with script found on missiles used by US forces.
The Turkish deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus, on Friday condemned the attack as a "war crime" and a "crime against humanity".
"Bombing civilians, people in the mosque and a house of worship is unacceptable," he told reporters in the northwestern province of Canakkale.
Since his ascension to the US Presidency 60 days ago, Donald Trump has overseen the killing of as many as 500 civilians in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq by his military.