Casualties from yesterday’s US airstrike in Syria were mostly members of non-extremist group
On Thursday night, a U.S. warplane struck a mosque in the village of Al-Jina west of Aleppo city, killing at least 58 people.
But according to local sources at the scene, most of those killed by the strike were members of Tablighi Jamaat, a peaceful, non-political Sunni movement.
Aleppo’s western countryside is home to a small community of Tablighi Jamaat adherents who had held regular meetings each Thursday night in the village’s ill-fated Omar Mosque.
According to local sources, Thursday night’s airstrike largely reduced the mosque to rubble. Local officials put the number of people inside the mosque when it came under attack at between 200 and 300.
“We arrived at the scene about five minutes after the strike,” local civil defense official Mustafa Ebeid told Anadolu Agency.
“We found many people lying on the ground,” he said. “Many were missing body parts.”
Ebeid quoted local eyewitnesses as saying that the mosque was struck by three missiles before a fourth targeted those trying to leave the building.
Tablighi Jamaat was established in India in 1927 by Muhammad Ilyas. Group adherents live mainly in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, but small Tablighi Jamaat communities can also be found in some Arab countries.
The group is known for its avoidance of politics and rejection of violence.
In a Friday statement, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) claimed responsibility for the deadly raid without confirming or denying that the mosque had been deliberately targeted.
According to CENTCOM, the strike had targeted Al-Qaeda members.