'Unintentional' Human Error Led to Airstrikes on Syrian Troops, Pentagon Says

  • 'Unintentional' Human Error Led to Airstrikes on Syrian Troops, Pentagon Says

'Unintentional' Human Error Led to Airstrikes on Syrian Troops, Pentagon Says

An Air Force general who led a coalition investigation of the attacks told reporters Tuesday at the Pentagon that the targets were believed, incorrectly, to be Islamic State fighters.

There were "errors in the development of intelligence, as well as missed opportunities for coalition members on duty to recognize and voice contrary evidence to decision makers", the U.S. military's Central Command said in a statement following a six-week probe into the September 17 attack near Deir Ezzor. A redacted executive summary of the report was released Tuesday.

Vice-Admiral Johnston said the investigation ultimately found that the strikes had been carried out "in full compliance with the rules of engagement and the laws of armed conflict".

Early on, planners mistakenly determined that a vehicle was operated by ISIS forces-a "significant contributing factor" in the resulting mistake, according to Coe.

The investigation revealed the coalition had phoned the Russian military command to notify them their planes would be striking the area.

However, the information passed to the Russians was wrong - the location given was wring by "several kilometres", an error put down to a lack of knowledge of the terrain.

"Without that call from the Russians the strikes would have continued longer than they did", said Coe.

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The US military and Australia's Defence Department at the time said the attack was called off after Russian Federation informed the coalition that Syrian military personnel and vehicles may have been hit. Richard Coe, the investigating officer, called the bombing, which occurred during a U.S. -Russia brokered ceasefire, "regrettable".

He said that the US has expressed regret for the incident.

Coe said that the coalition had no intent to target any forces other than ISIS and that no one conducted themselves with malice or negligence. Russian Federation said the September 17 strikes jeopardized the ceasefire.

Even before the strike took place, the coalition made a big mistake. Coe also said the United States is still unable to determine who they actually struck, but the targeted fighters were more likely than not aligned with the Syrian government. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use.

It added that evidence showed there wasn't "a deliberate disregard of targeting procedures or the rules of engagement". The coalition employed F-16s, A-10s, F/A-18s and drones in the strike. A total of 34 precision-guided munitions were fired from a variety of warplanes, plus 380 round of 30mm ammunition, Coe said. Coe said US forces had alerted the Russians - who are conducting their own air campaign over Syria - that USA and coalition aircraft would be striking in the area, but the service member responsible for passing the location of the proposed strikes accidentally gave the Russians inaccurate information. "We welcome the coalition's report and its conclusion that the decision to identify the targets as Daesh (IS) fighters was reasonable", he said.

The statement, which followed a six-week probe, marked the USA military's first formal admission of fault in the Sept 17 attack near Deir Ezzor.