A US airstrike targeting an al-Qaeda leader in northern Syria wounded a family of six, including a 10-year-old child who suffered serious head injuries, The Associated Press has learned.
Ahmad Qassim had picked up his family from his in-laws in northwestern Syria and was driving back home on Friday morning when an explosion occurred, riddling their vehicle with shrapnel.
Qassim, a 52-year-old farmer, his wife, two sons and two daughters suffered various wounds in the blast apparently caused by a missile fired from a US drone.
The drone was targeting a man on a motorcycle that Qassim was trying to overtake near the northwestern village of Mastoumeh.
The US military says it conducted a strike from a remotely piloted MQ-9 aircraft Friday near the city of Idlib targeting “a senior al-Qaeda leader and planner.” An initial review of this strike indicated the potential for possible civilian casualties, it added.
“We abhor the loss of innocent life and take all possible measures to prevent them. The possibility of a civilian casualty was immediately self-reported to US Central Command,” said Captain Bill Urban, CENTCOM spokesperson, adding the army was investigating.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said the US drone fired three missiles in Friday’s attack, killing a former member of the al-Qaeda-linked Horas al-Din group, Arabic for “Guardians of Religion.”
Five family members have been discharged from the hospital but Qassim’s youngest son, 10-year-old Mahmoud, remains in the intensive care unit of a hospital in the city of Idlib, where he is being treated for serious head injuries.
Qassim said doctors told him his son could have permanent difficulties moving his left arm and leg because of trauma to his brain.
Qassim’s wife, Fatima Gargouh, 48, had her left leg broken while his daughters Hiba, 16, and Batoul 15, and 12-year-old son Walid suffered wounds that were not life threatening. He said one of his daughters has not been able to move since several pieces of shrapnel were removed from her body.
SOURCE: The West Australian