World Media

U.S. denies targeting Syrian mosque where dozens of people died in airstrike

U.S. denies targeting Syrian mosque where dozens of people died in airstrike

They said initial assessments do not indicate any civilian casualties from the airstrike.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies heavily on a network of spies working for the foreign-backed opposition, the USA warplanes had attacked the mosque, killing 42 people, and injuring more than 100 others. "We struck a meeting of senior al-Qaeda terrorists, some of these were likely high-value individuals", he said.

Much of the building, identified by a black placard outside as a mosque, had been flattened.

An Islamic networking group as Advocacy and Intimation is known to be active at the mosque where religious lessons are offered to the local population, according to al-Halaby and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which also described the attack as a "massacre".

"The area was extensively surveilled prior to the strike in order to minimize civilian casualties", Davis said. "Again, this was a meeting place for al-Qaeda leaders and fighters".

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"We take this very seriously", he added.

It was the latest example of a large, unexplainable gap between what the United States military and residents on the ground said was hit in a conflict where it is impossible for independent observers to be on the ground to assess what happened.

"Some people [are] in critical situation and others are still missing", the group's report said, adding that the "search for missing, dead bodies and survivors under the rubble of the destruction caused by the bombing is still taking place". The White Helmets in Aleppo, a volunteer civil defense organization, has released videos of rescues after the airstrike.

Activists posted pictures of bodies scattered on the floor near the mosque.

An estimated 300 individuals were packed into the mosque for evening prayers at the time of the airstrike. "The damage was overwhelming".

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"We targeted an Al Qaeda gathering across the street from a mosque".

"We are certainly not saying that the coalition deliberately targeted the mosque", Woods told ABC News.

Thursday's attack involved two Reaper drones, which fired more than four Hellfire missiles and dropped at least one 500-pound guided bomb in a follow-up strike, the USA official said.

The coalition has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians.

An AFP reporter at the scene said rescuers earlier left the wreckage site but were forced to double back when they heard moaning coming from the debris. In the past, it has dismissed allegations of civilian deaths in its strikes.

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