NY Times: US covered up civilian deaths in Syria

A major US newspaper says the US military killed many women and children during airstrikes in Syria in 2019, but covered up the deaths.

The New York Times said on Saturday that it had spent months piecing together a detailed account of the attacks. The outlet said it used information culled from confidential documents and interviews with personnel directly involved in the assaults.

The report says a US attack jet carried out the actions near the town of Baghuz in March, 2019. That was during the last days of the battle against the Islamic State militants in Syria.

The report says the jet dropped a bomb on a large crowd of women and children huddled against a river bank. It states that more bombs were dropped on the survivors. It says 80 people were killed. Most of them were reportedly civilians.

The report says the bombings were "called in" by a US special operations unit in charge of ground operations in Syria. It also says warnings were not given. It adds that uniformed personnel watching live drone footage of the attacks looked on in disbelief.

The report also states that someone in the military called for a detailed investigation. The individual reportedly said the airstrike could be considered a war crime. But the report says the attack was classified as a self-defense action and covered up. It says top leaders were not notified.

The New York Times reports that it sent its findings to US Central Command. The paper says US Central Command acknowledged the attacks for the first time, after it received the findings. The command reportedly told the paper 80 people were killed, including 16 fighters and four civilians. But it said it is not clear whether the other 60 victims were civilians.