Comment by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova on the US air strike in the outskirts of the village of Al-Jina, Syria

March 17, 2017

Late in the evening of March 16, the media reported that as a result of an air strike in the outskirts of the village of Al-Jina in the Syrian Idlib province carried out during the evening prayer, a local mosque was destroyed and many people died (the updated number stands at 70 casualties). The news was picked up by agenda-driven information websites, which hastened to ascribe the incident to the Russian Aerospace Forces. Immediately, photos from family albums with smiling children were posted online with captions saying they died in the air strike. However, those who cleared the debris found fragments of ammunition marked in Latin characters, which lead to the conclusion that a Hellfire missile may have been used. US military officials confirmed that they had carried out this strike. The air strike had targeted a building across the street from the mosque, which was used for al-Qaeda terrorist meetings.
Of course, it is important to figure out what happened in southwestern Al-Jina (administratively, this village is part of Aleppo, not Idlib), and which particular building was bombed and who are the victims talked about by the “eyewitnesses.” Deep down, we have no doubt that the US military was targeting terrorists. Unlike some of our opponents, we are not going to come up with accusations of a “targeted” killing of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure.
At the same time, if the death of a large number of civilians in Al-Jina is confirmed, this, we believe, should constitute a compelling reason to establish closer coordination between all those involved in fighting international terrorists in Syria. This could significantly improve the accuracy of targeting, as well as avoid actions, the expediency of which is militarily dubious, such as, in particular, the bombing by the coalition of the Euphrates River dams or oil production facilities.
We reiterate our urgent appeal to our partners regarding the establishment of equal and mutually respectful cooperation in fighting international terrorists in Syria on a universal international legal basis.