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U.S. defends controversial May airstrike

/ Source: The Associated Press

The U.S. military said Wednesday an initial investigation of an air attack near the Syrian border last month hit a legitimate military target, despite claims by Iraqi survivors and police who said it was a wedding party.

“Post-strike intelligence still leads us to conclude that that was a location that was a way station for a number of foreign fighters coming into the country,” a senior U.S military official said on condition of anonymity. “We still believe that it was a significant intelligence target.”

The attack on May 19 killed more than 40 people, Iraqi officials said. The U.S. military said the target was a suspected safehouse for foreign fighters from Syria. Police and survivors said the victims had been attending a wedding.

Family members provided Associated Press Television News with video showing a bride in a Western-style wedding dress and people celebrating in a tent. The video did not show the actual attack.

However, a musician seen playing a keyboard was shown dead in another video made when the survivors brought bodies back to Ramadi for burial. The musician’s family said he was killed in the air strike.

U.S. officials said they could not rule out that a party may have taken place but said that did not detract from their view that the area was used for subversive activities.