March 17 (UPI) — The U.S. military said it carried out an attack on a building where al-Qaida militants were meeting in Syria, not on a mosque next door where activists say 46 civilians were killed in a bombing.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the incident occurred in the town of al-Jinah in Aleppo’s western countryside. Al-Jinah is located in one of the main rebel-held parts of Syria.
U.S. Central Command spokesman Col. John J. Thomas said the intended target was destroyed late Thursday but the mosque near the target was not struck.
“We did not target any mosques,” Thomas said. “What we did target was destroyed. There is a mosque within 50 feet of that building that is still standing.”
However, local activists and the SOHR said at least 46 people were killed — adding the death toll could rise as some are in critical condition and others are missing. The SOHR said it does not know to what country the warplanes that bombed the mosque belong.
Local activists posted photos on Twitter of what appears to be fragments of an U.S.-made Hellfire missile, but The New York Times said it could not verify the authenticity of the posts.
A Syrian Civil Defense official told Anadolu Agency that 58 people died in the bombing, which the agency believes was carried out by Russia. The bombing occurred during prayer time.
“A warplane, which we believe was a Russian jet, bombed a mosque during prayer time in al-Jinah village near the al-Etarip district of Aleppo,” the source said. ” “There were 200-300 people in the mosque.”