US Military Admits It Killed a Civilian in May 2023 Drone Strike in Syria

Credit: 163d Attack Wing

US Central Command (CENTCOM) acknowledged on Thursday that its forces killed a civilian in a May 2023 drone strike in northwest Syria, walking back its initial claim that it killed an al-Qaeda leader.

Lufti Hasan Masto, a 56-year-old father of 10, was hit by a Hellfire missile on May 3, 2023, in a rural area of Syria’s northern Idlib province while tending his sheep. Evidence surfaced immediately that the US killed a civilian with the strike, but CENTCOM put out a statement claiming it killed an al-Qaeda leader even though who died wasn’t confirmed at the time.

CENTCOM said the investigation concluded on November 15, 2023, and it’s unclear why the command waited until now to make it public. “The investigation determined US forces misidentified the intended Al Qaeda target and that a civilian, Mr. Lufti Hasan Masto (Masto), was struck and killed instead. Many of the facts and other findings of the investigation involve classified information and cannot be shared publicly,” CENTCOM said in a press release.