21st Century Wire says…
Russia, Syria, and United States forces had a close call on Tuesday in a continual effort to get rid of Islamic State from Syria. Both Russia and Syria forces nearly hit U.S. proxies thinking they were Daesh forces that recently left the area. Certainly these are the types of mistakes the world’s biggest superpowers could avoid at all costs.
The ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’, a U.S. ally, took some casualties but Russian planes disengaged once American forces used a long established hotline to warn Russian counterparts they were bombing ‘friendlies’. American advisory forces were fewer than five miles away, but were unharmed.
More on this report from Zerohedge…
Russian and Syrian jets nearly hit U.S. forces in northern Syria on Tuesday when they attacked positions held by Syrian Democratic Forces, a US ally in the ongoing effort to expel the Islamic State from Syria, the top U.S. commander in Iraq and Syria said Wednesday.
The Russian and Syrian planes, apparently, had seen some ISIS forces recently move out of the area and hit the U.S. proxies thinking they were ISIS forces. The Syrian Arab force took casualties, but the Russian planes peeled off once their American counterparts used a long-established hotline to warn them they were bombing friendly forces. American advisory forces were fewer than five miles away, but were unharmed.
As RT reports, the targeting of the Syrian Arab Coalition in the hamlets to the south and east of al-Bab on Tuesday appeared unintentional and quickly ceased, once nearby U.S. troops alerted the Russians about which group had been hit, said Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of the Operation Inherent Resolve coalition. The Syrian Arab Coalition makes up about 60% of the Syrian Democratic Forces – the United States’ proxy force fighting the Islamic State group in Syria.
“I believe [the Russians and Syrians] thought [those villages] were held by [the Islamic State group], but who was actually on the ground were some of our Syrian Arab Coalition force,” Townsend told reporters at the Pentagon in a briefing from his headquarters in Baghdad. “As the regime and [Turkish forces] advanced on those villages, the [Islamic State group] fighters withdrew and the Syrian Arab Coalition fighters advanced into those villages.”
While Townsend said the Syrian Arab Coalition forces suffered casualties in the attacks, he did not say whether anyone was killed or how many fighters were injured.
As Foreign Policy adds, what happened today is a situation that U.S. commanders have been trying to avoid since Russia deployed dozens of aircraft to Syria in late 2015. Currently there are about 500 American troops are on the ground training Syrian Arab and Kurdish fighters in northern Syria in the run-up to the assault on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, and the Russians have shown themselves to be indifferent over who, or what, they strike with their unguided bombs.
The jumbled mess of competing forces in and around al-Bab has increased the likelihood of mistakes or miscalculations. Turks, their Free Syrian Army allies, ISIS, Syrian regime forces, and the U.S.-backed Syrian Arab Coalition and Kurdish forces are “literally within hand grenade range of each other,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend told reporters at the Pentagon Wednesday. Al-Bab was liberated last week from the terrorist group by Turkish forces – backed by some 50 U.S. airstrikes – after months of fighting.
Townsend, who commands U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, said these groups are “bumping up against each other” around the city, adding “three armies and an enemy force have all converged within the same grid square, so it’s very difficult and complicated” to know just who is where.
“It’s the most complicated environment or situation I’ve been in in my entire life,” he said…
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