PENTAGON, The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group has targeted a second mosque in eastern Syria in less than a week, saying the normally protected religious building was used as an insurgent command and control center.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson told VOA the strike Monday killed Islamic State fighters who "were actively firing on coalition partner forces from the mosque" in as-Sousa, near the border with Iraq.
He said IS's use of protected buildings to shield their fighters from coalition strikes was an "ongoing pattern" seen in recent weeks. The mosque targeted Monday was 2.5 kilometers away from a mosque struck last week.
The law of land warfare protects mosques, but the use of these buildings as a headquarters by IS caused them to lose that protected status, Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Robert Manning said Monday.
"They are nasty, they are brutal, they are unethical, and they certainly have no problem at all putting civilians at risk," Manning said of the terror group.
A coalition press release Monday said the mosque was deliberately struck during an attack on several buildings controlled by IS. It called the use of a mosque an act of "desperation."
The U.S. military said it had closely monitored the buildings targeted Monday and struck "when only their [IS] fighters were present."
It is unclear whether any civilians were killed in the attack. Manning said the U.S. military would investigate any credible claims of civilian casualties.
Syrian state media and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes in as-Sousa last week killed and wounded dozens, including civilians and IS fighters.
As-Sousa is in the last IS-held area of Syria, where coalition-backed forces have been fighting extremists for weeks.
Source: Voice of America