US mistakenly killed civilian in 2023 Syria strike, Pentagon says

FILE PHOTO: Pentagon building in Arlington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Pentagon on Thursday acknowledged in an internal investigation that the United States mistakenly killed a civilian in Syria in a 2023 drone strike, saying U.S. forces had misidentified an intended al Qaeda target.

The U.S. Central Command, in a statement, said it could not publicly share many details of the investigation, citing classified information. While the strike complied with the law of armed conflict and U.S. policies, the probe "revealed several issues that could be improved."

"U.S. Central Command acknowledges and regrets the civilian harm that resulted from the airstrike," it wrote.

"We are committed to learning from this incident and improving our targeting processes to mitigate potential civilian harm," Central Command added.

The Washington Post, which earlier reported the assessment, said the statement confirmed the newspaper's previous reporting that the U.S.'s initial claim that it had slain a senior al Qaeda leader was false.

The May 3, 2023, strike in northwest Syria was supposed to target a senior al Qaeda leader but instead struck a civilian named Lufti Hasan Masto, the statement said, adding that the investigation had concluded in mid-November.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Ismail Shakil; writing by Susan Heavey; Paul Grant; Editing by Caitlin Webber and Eric Beech)