Published: Sat, March 04, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Russian jets mistakenly bomb US-backed forces in Syria: Pentagon

Russian jets mistakenly bomb US-backed forces in Syria: Pentagon

USA forces, who were a couple of miles away to assist the Syrian fighters, called in the information and the Russians halted the airstrikes, Townsend said.

Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of the Operation Inherent Resolve coalition, said he sees no need for a significant influx of American ground troops in either country where US -backed local forces - the Iraqi military and the Syrian Democratic Forces - have consistently pushed back the terrorist group during the last two years. "Yet, on the ground were some of our Syrian Arab Coalition [an SDF faction]", General Townsend said.

"Some quick calls were made to our deconfliction channels and the Russians acknowledged and stopped bombing there".

"Not one strike was launched by Russian or Syrian aviation on the areas given by the American side", the Russian defense ministry said, according to RIA.

In this photo provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service shows Russian air force Tu-22M3 bombers strike the Islamic State targets in Syria, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. He added that the US asks "all forces to remain focused on the counter-ISIS fight and concentrate their efforts on defeating ISIS, and not toward other objectives that may cause the coalition to divert energy and resources away from Raqqa". But he said IS fighters had withdrawn before the bombing, and opposition fighters from the so-called Syrian Arab Coalition had moved in.

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The American general leading the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria signaled Wednesday that the United States is unlikely to drastically alter its strategy to defeat the terrorist organization under President Donald Trump.

Townsend, who commands USA 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 hard and complicated" to know just who is where.

Townsend said the incident illustrates how complicated the battlefield has become near al-Bab, which is less than 20 miles from the Turkish border in northwest Syria and was seized from the Islamic State by Turkish-backed forces last month.

"There were US forces in the area", he added. Not every day on the ground, but daily in the air there's a deconfliction arrangement with the Russians.

"We used that mechanism and it worked", Townsend said. "But in the event that we bring in any additional troops, we'll work with our local partners both here in Iraq and Syria to make sure that they understand the reasons why we're doing that and to get their buy-in of that".

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