US military acknowledges errant drone strike last year killed a civilian, not an al-Qaeda leader


(WASHINGTON) — A targeted U.S. drone strike in northwest Syria one year ago Friday hit and killed a civilian, not the al-Qaeda leader it was looking for, the Pentagon said after an internal review.

“U.S. Central Command acknowledges and regrets the civilian harm that resulted from the airstrike,” the combatant command said in a statement after the year-long review. It confirmed the Syrian, Lufti Hasan Masto, “was struck and killed instead” of an intended senior al-Qaeda leader. The news was first reported by The Washington Post.

U.S. forces misidentified the target but found that “the strike was conducted in compliance with the law of armed conflict,” CENTCOM said in a statement. It also said officers adhered to Pentagon and Central Command policies.

Still, CENTCOM acknowledged that its “investigation revealed several issues that could be improved” and said it was “committed to learning from this incident and improving our targeting processes to mitigate potential civilian harm.”

It made no mention of potential disciplinary action and did not disclose issues it found, citing classified information that can’t be shared.

ABC News’ Anne Flaherty and Matt Seyler contributed to this report.

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