CENTCOM Public Affairs Email Exchanges With News Media On Baghuz Strike In Syria

Kevin Gosztola filed this request with the United States Central Command - CENTCOM of the United States of America.
Status
Awaiting Acknowledgement

Communications

From: Kevin Gosztola

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following—

Any documents, files, or records from United States Central Command's Office of Public Affairs reflecting email exchanges with reporters or representatives of the news media that relate to the Baghuz strike that occurred in Syria on March 18, 2019. The strike was officially acknowledged by CENTCOM when the New York Times sought official comment for a report that was published on November 13, 2021.

Specifically, please include correspondence with reporters or representatives of the New York Times that occurred prior to the publication of this report.

The report from the New York Times claimed, "In the last days of the battle against the Islamic State in Syria, when members of the once-fierce caliphate were cornered in a dirt field next to a town called Baghuz, a U.S. military drone circled high overhead, hunting for military targets. But it saw only a large crowd of
women and children huddled against a river bank."

"Without warning, an American F-15E attack jet streaked across the drone’s high-definition field of vision and dropped a 500-pound bomb on the crowd, swallowing it in a shuddering blast. As the smoke cleared, a few people stumbled away in search of cover. Then a jet tracking them dropped one 2,000-pound bomb, then another, killing most of the survivors," the report added.

The New York Times indicated they sent their "findings" to CENTCOM, "which oversaw the air war in Syria." After the Times showed CENTCOM what they had uncovered, the CENTCOM "acknowledged the strikes for the first time, saying 80 people were killed but the airstrikes were justified. It said the bombs killed 16
fighters and four civilians. As for the other 60 people killed, the statement said it was not clear that they were civilians, in part because women and children in the Islamic State sometimes took up arms."

Captain Bill Urban, who was described by the New York Times as the chief spokesman for CENTCOM, stated, “We abhor the loss of innocent life and take all possible measures to prevent them. In this case, we self-reported and investigated the strike according to our own evidence and take full responsibility for the unintended loss of life."

As a professional reporter who has a track record of coverage of the United States Defense Department and its military branches, including strikes by manned and unmanned aircraft, I assert that I should be designated as a media requester for the purpose of assessing fees.

Given the amount of public interest, I additionally ask that any and all fees be waived. In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of any and all charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request be filled electronically, by email attachment if available.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as required by the statute.

Sincerely,

Kevin Gosztola

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