Family of six, including child, wounded in US strike in Syria

BEIRUT (AP) – A United States (US) airstrike targetting 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 where they had spent four days and was driving back home last 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 targetting a man on a motorcycle that Qassim was trying to overtake, according to Qassim and first responders. The blast occurred near the northwestern village of Mastoumeh as the family drove back home to the northern town of Afrin.

Syria’s 10-year conflict has killed hundreds of thousands and left large parts of the country destroyed. The Friday morning attack occurred in Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria and home to three million people, many of them internally displaced, like Qassim’s family.

The US military said it conducted a strike from a remotely piloted MQ-9 aircraft last Friday near the city of Idlib targetting “a senior al-Qaeda leader and planner”. An initial review of this strike indicates the potential for possible civilian casualties, it added.

Ahmad Qassim visits his wounded son Mahmoud in a hospital in the town of Idlib, Syria. PHOTO: AP