Published: Thu, March 02, 2017
World Media | By Joan Schultz

Russian Federation accidentally bombs United States allies in Syria, ceases after deconfliction call


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.

Russia's Defense Ministry denied the claim, state-sponsored Sputnik News said.

A joint operation targeting Islamic State (ISIS) militants near the village of al-Bab sent missiles at Syrian coalition troops instead, according to Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend.

Townsend, who commands US 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.

A communication link between Russian and U.S. forces in the region was established months ago, with the military of the two countries having agreed to communicate in order to avoid incidents in the busy Syrian airspace. 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". In early February, a Russian bombing killed three Turkish soldiers in northern Syria.

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The top United States commander overseeing the counter-ISIS mission in Iraq and Syria downplayed the chances Wednesday of the US deploying a large number of troops to the region, as President Donald Trump weighs routes to speed up the campaign.

The general sought to tamp down tensions, saying that "the coalition is encouraged" by the progress against ISIS by the Turkish military and their proxies.

The United States and Russia established a hotline in 2015 in which a USA colonel in Qatar and a Russian colonel in Syria work to "deconflict" operations and prevent aerial collisions.

The U.S. troops observed the airstrikes and notified higher command to contact the Russians under an arrangement to "deconflict" U.S. and Russian operations in Syria, he said in a briefing from Baghdad to the Pentagon. Russia, Turkey, the USA and other countries are backing surrogate forces inside Syria, which has been in a civil war since 2011.

"There'll be Kurds attacking Raqqa", Townsend said Wednesday. "And we used that mechanism and it worked".

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