US airstrike on SAA in Deir ez-Zor
US "Freudian slip"
Sept. 17, 2016 US "Freudian slip": air strikes on Syrian positions in Deir-ez-Zor, which killed at least 62 Syrian soldiers, 160 wounded; after SAA al-Tharda Mountain positions were hit, IS attacked at once and according to media reports coming as events unfolded, initially gained control(SANA) over mountains overlooking the airport. Eventually, as is indicated by Vitaly Churkin, below, Russian air strikes helped prevent IS advance (and earlier gains were reversed).
- US centcom attributed the strike to an error.
- Russia asked for a UN meeting, following on SAR protesting the strike; revealed some details of earlier agreements with the US on ceasefire, indicating earlier that USA is not fulfilling its part, and the agreement is in danger
- Russian MoD extra press conference was announced but, apparently, has not yet occurred
- General-Lieutenant Rudskoy led the press conference, reports by head of reconciliation center General Savchenko, and a Syrian MoD representative sitting next to him regarding losses were provided.
- 17:00 US strikes by two F 16 planes, two A-10 planes, and strike-capable drone on SAA positions 6 km south of Deir-ez-Zor airport. No Russian strikes in the area.
- after receiving information from Syrian representatives, Russian group commander contacted Center for Joint Operations in Al Udeid, Qatar and demanded to stop strikes immediately.
- 17:50 strikes stopped.
- IS fighters started an attack (exact time not provided by MoD; said to be 15 minutes later in media reports)
- as stated, "right now, fierce fighting continues"
- from 19:00, Russian airspace forces provided air support to SAA, perform airstrikes on IS. "Up until now", (as stated) 10 strikes were delivered.
- Personnel losses of 160, including 62 killed; 3 tanks, 3 BMP, 4 mortars, and one anti-aircraft installation.
- Time zone not clearly stated but it's the same time in Moscow and Damascus, so Moscow time may be assumed. Press conference time is estimated to be 8 p.m. (exact time not stated and perhaps will be clarified later).
UN Security Council
- Samantha Power 'we will investigate', and goes into into accusing Syria and Russia in everything (chemical weapons, torture, targeting civilians, bombing hospitals, etc). She complains that this emergency meeting was a "stunt," over one accidental strike, and asks whether there should be one after every alleged Russian or Syrian crime.
- Vitaly Churkin walks out, gives a press conference (Eng.), suggests that that was not accidental (wonders why the US was suddenly trying to help the SAA against ISIS in this area, in order to make this "suspicious" mistake in a "reckless, reckless" attack.). Spills some beans on the agreement (5:00), tells that on September 19, US-Russian implementation group will start operating and US would have certainty whom they are hitting; but they preferred to act otherwise instead. Asks "who is in charge in Washington?" (~10:30). Q: is this the end of the deal between US and Russia? A: ...big question mark... if US response is like Samantha Power's, we are in serious trouble (12:30)
- Timing & other aspects of US strike on Syrian army suggest intentional provocation – Churkin - RT, September 18, 2016
- Churkin wonders about real US intentions behind Syria attack, discloses excerpts from Washington-Moscow deal’s document
Syrian Soldiers Respond
Ambassador Power seems to feel this was an obvious mistake, everyone knows the US is leading the real fight against Islamic State, while the Syrian government has allowed it to grow. She's clear the US would never intentionally attack a Syrian military position and assist and IS advance. In fact, there's an implication from the area chosen that the US was trying to help the SAA as they decimated them instead. So ... how are these intentions coming trough on the end of the not-quite-allies killed in this not-quite-friendly-fire incident?
- Testimonies of the Syrian soldiers who witnessed the US airstrikes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6cXMf6BL0U (translation as sent, slight repairs, not reviewed)
- We first thought the aircraft are support to us after the first 2 shots, but we quickly found out that they are targeting our forces aggressively, while we were fighting IS terrorists. The aircraft used cluster bombs against us.
- A day before the airstrikes, the drones were flying and scanning all the area
- The US airstikes destroyed all our equipment and defense points.
- IS fighters attacked us immediately after and during the US strikes. Some of them were laughing
- US drones and helicopters opened fire from machine guns on our retreating forces
- It is for sure wasn't not a mistake, they targeted us intentionally to help IS.
- America is ISIS itself
- Syrian army says U.S.-led coalition jets bombed it in support of Islamic State - Reuters, September 17, 2016
- Russian MoD Confirms US-Led Coalition's F-16, A-10 Jets Attacked Syrian Army - Sputnik, September 17، 2016
- US alliance aircrafts target Syrian Army position in Deir Ezzor, Israeli enemy targets position in Quneitra - SANA, September 17، 2016
- "US builds working theory on cause of Syrian airstrike", CNN, September 19, 2016
- US appoints a 1 star general to investigate.
- Russia Had to Call U.S. Twice to Stop Syria Airstrike - Paul McLeary, Foreign Policy, September 20, 2016
- Pentagon Finds Human Errors Led To Strikes On Syrian Government-Aligned Troops Merrit Kennedy, NPR, November 29, 2016. Internal investigation decides human error led to the mistake. Some reasons are clssified, but "Air Force Brig. Gen. Richard Coe, who led the investigation, said, "the personnel on the ground equipped with military weapons and vehicles were not wearing recognizable uniforms. They had no unit flags or insignia or markings that we could observe..."
The report says the attack lasted an hour (13:55 to 14:56), ending just four minutes after the Russians clarified who they were attacking. The article explains why the Russians didn't tell them before the attack who should be there:
- This was the first time that the U.S. coalition used a special United States/Russia Hotline "to inform of an imminent strike," the report adds. But the coalition passed along incorrect coordinates, which "may have affected the Russian response to the notification and caused considerable confusion."
So in addition to the targeting error, they also made an error is reporting the target area, both contributing to the attack being able to happen. However, it's said the Russians contributed to the long attack by waiting 27 minutes to talk to their usual contact and not the battlefield commander, after they decided halfway through what was going on.
- US CENTCOM report, November 29, 2016 http://www.centcom.mil/Portals/6/media/REDACTED_FINAL_XSUM_Memorandum__29_Nov_16___CLEAR.pdf
Who did it?
- Australian jets involved in US-led air strike which killed dozens of Syrian soldiers, Defence confirms - ABC News (Australia), September 18, 2016
- Confirmed again November 30 - involved in bombing, not approving the target (SMH.au)
- Government has no strategy, no plan and only ‘phantom’ allies in Syria, scathing Commons report reveals - Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, September 21, 2016
- The muddled British political and military strategy in Syria was exemplified last Saturday when British aircraft took part in an air strike that mistakenly killed 62 Syrian army soldiers who were apparently fighting Isis near the besieged provincial capital of Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria.
- Washington does the unthinkable, kills Syrian troops and helps ISIS - Alexander Mercouris, The Duran, September 17, 2016
- ‘Unbelievable’ that US strike on Syrian army was mistake – fmr MI5 agent - RT, September 17, 2016
- U.S., Israel Launch Airstrikes On Syrian Government Forces - Directly Supporting ISIS And Al-Qaeda - Moon of Alabama, September 17, 2016
- U.S. did strike long held SAA positions in Deir ez-Zor, with coalition not under attack, resulting in serious setbacks for SAA. Israel refers to an incident in Golan heights on the same day, where it is unclear what actually happened: attack was reported by Hezbollah and Syrian sources; Israel did not confirm the attack, quoted external sources that attack was by a drone, confirmed that Iron Dome shot down projectiles in (mistaken) belief those will hit Israel. There was (confirmed) cross-border fire and Israeli response several days earlier. There are armistice arrangements but not a peace treaty between Israel and Syria, with small scale incidents not unheard of.
- US Massacre Of Syrian Soldiers In Deir Ezzor Was No “Mistake”, It Was an Act of War - Jonathan Azaziah, September 18, 2016
- Syria Bombing Exposes Cracks in American Facade, Off-Guardian, September 18, 2016
- U.S. Allies 'Volunteer' To Share (Implausible) Blame For Deir Ezzor Attack - Moon of Alabama, September 19, 2016
- Rogue Mission: Did the Pentagon Bomb Syrian Army to Kill Ceasefire Deal? - Mike Whitney, Counterpunch, September 20, 2016
- Was it Mutiny? U.S. Rulers Split Over Syria - Glen Ford, September 21, 2016
- Was Syrian air strike a 'mistake'? And why does Australia loyally plead guilty? James O'Neill, Independent Australia, September 22, 2016
- Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo - Mike Whitney, Counterpunch, September 27, 2016
- 'Dangerous Precedent': Pentagon Now at the Helm of American Foreign Policy - Ekaterina Blinova, Sputnik, October 5, 2016
- US strikes on Syrian troops: Report data contradicts 'mistake' claims Gareth Porter, Middle East Eye, 6 December 2016 19:20 (Global Research re-post)
- A detailed consideration of the CENTCOM report, Porter analyzes the CENTCOM report (PDF), casting serious doubt on the claims it was all an accident. Porter contends lack of full uniforms ks not uncommon in Syrian army units, and was no good clue they were ISIS (it doesn't seem they did any kind of beard check either). He also notes the wrong location "misled the Russians about where the US intended to strike so Russia could not warn that it was targeting Syrian troops," and found no convincing reason "as to how such misleading information could have been passed to the Russians unintentionally." Further, as Porter notes, they made another supposed mistake in not noticing the Syrian flag planted at one site. As the Centcom report notes:
- "Finally, a possible flag was called out in the south target area 30 minutes prior to the strike and the call went unacknowledged due to human factors, to include task saturation and target fixation."
- The type of flag isn't specified, but it wasn't cited in support of the ISIS ID, and in the end they decided Syrian forces were "more likely than not" the ones hit, so presumably it was the expected Syrian flag (or perhaps of an allied force) in this known government-held area.
- Implausible Denials: The Crime at Jabal al Tharda. US-led Air Raid on Behalf of ISIS-Daesh Against Syrian Forces - Tim Anderson, Global Research, December 17, 2017
Nine months earlier, in December, 2015, an apparent US-coalition strike hit a Syrian army camp near Deir Ez-Zor killing 3 soldiers. See Airstrike on Saeqa military camp near Deir ez-Zor. In that case, the coalition acknowledged it had jets in the area, exactly an hour before the attack (depending which time zone was used - unclear). So they denied the claims, and in fact blamed Russian bombers for the supposed mistake (long-range bombers came in and flew the same area an hour later, at the same time as the attack, all seen on radar, according to unnamed officials).