U.S. Forces Strike Syrian Troops, Prompting Emergency UN Meeting
U.S.-led coalition air strikes killed dozens of Syrian soldiers on Saturday, Russia and a monitoring group said, putting a U.S.-Russian brokered ceasefire in jeopardy and prompting an emergency UN Security Council meeting.
The United States military said the coalition stopped the attacks against what it had believed to be Islamic State positions in northeast Syria after Russia informed it that Syrian military personnel and vehicles may have been hit.
A U.S. military official said he was “pretty sure” targets mistakenly hit in the strikes were Syrian forces.
Russia called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council after the incident, and diplomats said the 15-member body was due to meet behind closed doors at 7:30 p.m. ET (2330 GMT).
And this from CNN:
The US military said the coalition thought it was hitting ISIS militants, but hours later said the airstrike may have struck Syrian soldiers.
A senior administration official told CNN late Saturday the US relayed its regret through Russia for the “unintentional loss of life.”
A statement from US Central Command said the coalition conferred with the Russian military before the strike.
“The coalition airstrike was halted immediately when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military,” CENTCOM said…
About 25 minutes into the strike, the Russians called the United States and said coalition forces were hitting Syrian troops, the US official said. The United States immediately withdrew and did not strike other planned targets in that area, the official said.
Another US official said the Pentagon trusts the Russian military unit that placed the call informing them of the incorrect target and had little doubt something went wrong.
Syrian troops have been battling ISIS in Deir Ezzor for years, and the Islamist militants control most of the city.
“Syria is a complex situation with various military forces and militias in close proximity, but coalition forces would not intentionally strike a known Syrian military unit,” CENTCOM said.
Russia blamed the United States for failing to coordinate with them on the airstrikes, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told Sputnik.
“If this airstrike was carried out due to an error in the coordinates of the target, it is a direct consequence of (the) US side’s unwillingness to coordinate its actions against terrorist groups with Russia,” Sputnik quoted the spokesman as saying.
The UN Security Council was holding an emergency meeting to discuss the airstrikes.
ISIS militants launched an attack on the Syrian position after the airstrikes, Sputnik reported, citing the Russian Ministry of Defense. Syrian state-run news agency SANA said the military was able to regain control of the area ISIS held briefly.
It’s a little early at this point to try and offer an analysis, but an ISIS attack upon Syrian forces coming immediately after the US airstrike sounds very much as if the two assaults were coordinated. I don’t think that we can discount the possibility, CENTCOM protests notwithstanding, that this was a deliberate attack by Pentagon military strategists upon the Syrian Army.