Did U.S. airstrike kill civilians in Syria?

U.S. fighters launch first airstrikes from Turkey
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U.S. fighters launch first airstrikes from Turkey 02:07

Story highlights

  • An activist's video claims civilians were killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike in Atmeh, Syria
  • "We are aware of the reports surrounding Atmeh and looking into them," CENTCOM says
  • Other groups also report civilian casualties

(CNN)The video shows a mother weeping in a hospital bed, her arm bandaged and motionless.

"The kids were playing at the patio and I was near our cow milking it, and all of a sudden the bombardment targeted us," she says. "Our house came crashing down on top of us."
    Next, the scene shifts to a field full of rubble, where a grief-stricken grandfather says five girls ranging in age from 4 to 10 and two women were killed in shelling.
    The video, posted online Wednesday by well known Syrian activist Hadi al-Abdallah, claims the family was hit by a U.S.-led coalition airstrike in Atmeh, a town north of Aleppo near the Turkish border.
    Pointing at the gravestones of his grandchildren, the grandfather cries: "Are these girls terrorists? Were they holding machine guns?"
    CNN hasn't independently confirmed the accusations in the video.
    A U.S. military official told CNN there were U.S. airstrikes around Atmeh, Syria, against an ISIS target.
    U.S. Central Command is looking into the allegations of civilian casualties from an airstrike, the official said.
    "We are aware of the reports surrounding Atmeh and are looking into them," CENTCOM said in a statement.
    Asked about the Atmeh airstrike Wednesday, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said he was not aware of that specific incident.
    "When our Air Force carries out airstrikes we take every effort to avoid civilian casualties, and to the extent that we can carry them out with pinpoint accuracy and spare civilian lives, we do so," he said. "We make every effort to do so. And we've been very clear that all of our airstrikes -- the coalition's airstrikes -- are done in coordination to assist (anti-ISIS) forces on the ground."
    Other groups also reported that civilians were killed.
    Turkey's semi-official Anadolu agency reported that local civil defense teams in Syria said that dozens of residents, including women and children, were killed in coalition airstrikes on Atmeh.
    The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 18 people died in a strike on the Jaish al Sunna rebel group headquarters near Atmeh. The victims included 10 fighters and eight civilians, including five children and two women, the group said.
    In another video posted by al-Abdallah, a spokesman for Jaish al Sunna says their local headquarters was destroyed.
    CENTCOM said in a statement that it was "still in the process of assessing the situation, collecting information to determine whether the allegation is credible."
    If the allegation is determined to be credible, the statement said, authorities will determine next steps, which could include an investigation.
    "Traditional investigation methods, such as interviewing witnesses and examining the site, are not typically available," CENTCOM said. "However, we also consider information provided to us by other U.S. Government organizations, such as the State Department, other organizations such human rights documentation groups, and non-government organizations (NGOs), and we seek to investigate as thoroughly as possible given the limitations."