Officials in the Biden administration are walking back claims that it killed a major leading figure in the Islamic State when it said he was killed in Syria by a Hellfire Missile. The drone attack was launched by Centcom on May 3, 2023, and US officials claimed it had wiped out a “leading figure in the Islamic-State,” without providing proof, and the dead man’s family has come forward arguing that he was an innocent civilian with no ties to the Islamic-State or terrorism.
56-year-old Lofti Hassan Misto was the man his family says was killed in the May 3 incident, which occurred in a town in Northwest Syria, the Washington Post.
The family says the man lived a quiet hard-working life, whose occupation was a brick-layer, and “whose entire life was spent poor,” as the family put it, and he was also a father of 10.
“We are no longer confident we killed a Senior AQ official,” one official said to the Washington Post, which first reported the incident. The officials were quoted anonymously due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.
The incident is somewhat recognizable to earlier incidents in the Biden administration when it killed 10 people during the chaotic withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.
“Though we believe the strike did not kill the target, we believe the person to be Al-Qaeda,” another official said regarding the drone strike.
Misto was killed when he was tending his sheep in the town of Qorqanya. “We had breakfast that morning like nothing was wrong, we had breakfast and everything was fine, and then he went to tend his sheep,” one of his sons said.
The area was under surveillance for about two-weeks neighbors said, but they said that no known Al-Qaede or Isis members lived at the house or in the area.
Members of Syria’s Civilian Defense Corps responded ten minutes after the drone strike and caught video of the aftermath which showed one of Mistro’s sons hunched over his body, along with dead sheep thrown about throughout the field.
“Centcom takes all such allegations seriously and is investigating to determine whether or not the actions may or may not have unintentionally resulted in harm to civilians, ” Centcom spokesman Michael Lawhorn said.