Lunes, 23 Abril, 2018

Led coalition airstrike mistakenly kills 18 allied Syrian fighters

U.S. fighter aircraft Russia, US at odds as OPCW probes Syria gas attack
Eleena Tovar | 15 Abril, 2017, 08:57

The strike marks the third time in a month the USA or its partners have struck civilians or allies with deadly consequences.

Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which Washington and other nations have backed and coordinated with to fight ISIS militants in the country, were mistakenly targeted in the air strike. The strike was called in by the coalition's "partnered forces, who had identified the target location as an ISIS position", the statement said, but "the target was actually a forward Syrian Democratic Forces fighting position".

The SDF said its leadership was working with the coalition to investigate the incident and prevent it from happening again.

The coalition is investigating the incident and "will implement appropriate safeguards" to prevent it from happening again, according to Central Command, which oversees USA operations in the Middle East.

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

In an email, the official said the US-led coalition had a strong track record of supporting SDF operations with air power.

The SDF is a cohort of militias that the US partners with in Syria to fight ISIS.

"It's high time the USA authorities came clean about the full extent of the civilian damage caused by Coalition attacks in Syria", Lynn Maalouf, deputy director for research at Amnesty International's Beirut regional office, said.

The strike Tuesday south of Tabqa, a strategic town in northern Syria, deepens questions about targeting methods used in the ongoing American air campaign over Iraq and Syria, which activists allege has resulted in a surge in civilian deaths this year. "Now we have begun the fourth stage of this operation, during which we expect to clear all the villages located in the immediate vicinity of Raqqa from Daesh", Ehmed told Sputnik Turkey.

Coalition commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said in late March that the USA military "probably had a role in these casualties" as global organizations have urged the coalition to put a stop to mounting civilian casualties.

In an AFP interview Wednesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dismissed reports of the chemical attack as "100% fabrication" - an assertion at odds with numerous witness accounts and expert analysis - and claimed they were meant to give a pretext for the USA strike.

On Wednesday, Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding a speedy probe into the Khan Sheikhoun attack.

Russian Federation has agreed to support an independent investigation into the use of chemical weapons in northern Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

It was the third time in a month that US-led airstrikes may have killed civilians or allies.