Russian warplanes ’mistakenly’ hit SDF terrorists near Manbij

Russian warplanes ’mistakenly’ hit SDF terrorists near Manbij
Russian warplanes mistakenly bombed the US-backed — so-called— Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), the commander of the American-led operation in Iraq and Syria said Wednesday.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of the American-led task force that is fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria, said the strike by Russian and Assad regime planes led to casualties among the SDF terrorists, but he did not specify how many were hurt or if any were killed.

He added that the Russian attack appeared to have been a mistake. Russians thought they were bombing villages held by ISIS, when in fact they were recently occupied by SDF.

“We had some Russian aircraft and regime aircraft bomb some villages that I believe they thought were held by ISIS,” General Townsend said in a video news conference with reporters at the Pentagon. “Actually on the ground were some of our Syrian Arab coalition forces,” he said referring to SDF as “Syrian Arab coalition forces.”

A spokesman for the American-led command in Baghdad said that the Russian airstrikes took place about 10 miles (16.1 km) southwest of Manbij. The Russian bombing stopped after American military officers at the air war command in Qatar called their Russian counterparts in Syria.

In Moscow, the Defense Ministry asserted that the United States had provided the coordinates of American-backed forces in northern Syria before the airstrikes and that Russian and Assad regime warplanes had not struck any areas that had been properly designated.

“No airstrikes were carried out by either ‘Syrian’ or Russian aircraft in areas designated by the U.S.,” the ministry said in a statement.

This is the second time in recent weeks that there has been an incident of so-called friendly fire involving the Russians. Last month, Russian fighters mistakenly bombed Turkish soldiers near al Bab, north east of Aleppo.

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