United States strike kills 18 SDF fighters in Syria

Kristopher Drake
April 15, 2017

The strike Tuesday by an aircraft from the USA -led coalition was called in by American allies, the US military says.

An RT crew working in the Tabqah area spotted U.S. troops, who were deployed to Syria to "train, advise and assist", just miles away from the Raqqa frontline, fighting alongside SDF units.

First, an SDF unit operating close to Islamic State lines incorrectly reported its own location to the US -led coalition, the official said.

According to a USA official with knowledge of the accidental strike, an SDF unit in close proximity to the Islamic State defense lines reported its location incorrectly. In December 2015, nine Iraqi soldiers in Fallujah were accidentally killed by USA -led aircraft, and in January 2016 nine Shiite militiamen fighting near Tikrit were bombed by an Iraqi drone.

The SDF is on the ground in Syria with the support of the US -led coalition in a large-scale offensive to capture the city of Raqqa away from Islamic State control. It said that the airstrike showed that militants have chemical weapons in their possession.

Then, a separate SDF unit, which spotted the first unit from afar, mistakenly reported its fellow SDF fighters to be Islamic State, requesting an air strike on their location.

A misdirected airstrike by the US -led coalition this week killed 18 allied fighters battling the Islamic State group in northern Syria, the USA military said Thursday.

The bombing marks the worst confirmed friendly-fire incident in the almost three-year-old war against the terrorist group.

The SDF called the incident a "painful accident" that resulted from a "mistake".

The strike, carried out Tuesday near the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, killed members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which the United States and other nations have backed and coordinated with to fight ISIS militants in the country.

Central Command issued a statement calling the careless "accidental" attack on American allies a tragic episode and the Pentagon said the cause of the 18 Syrian rebels' deaths is under investigation; like the growing number of other "tragic episodes" that claimed the lives of innocent civilians. But the countryside south of Raqqa is still under Islamic State control.

The global chemical weapons watchdog is testing samples from the suspected nerve gas attack and could produce a report on the matter within three weeks, the British delegation to the commission said Thursday.

On late Wednesday, Russia vetoed a United Nations (UN) resolution demanding the Syrian government cooperate with an investigation into the suspected chemical attack, saying that Moscow had consistently expressed its "categorical disagreement" with the draft resolution, which led to further criticism from the West, including the United States.

Meanwhile, preparations were underway for the planned evacuation of more than 10,000 residents from two pro-government Shiite villages in northern Syria, Foua and Kfarya, and the rebel-held towns of Madaya and Zabadani near Damascus. They say they are working to clear Islamic State militants out of Jalab Valley, north of Raqqa.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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