dglobalnews.com Russian Airstrikes Hit US-Trained Force in Syria
Published: Thu, March 02, 2017
Global Media | By Cecelia Webb

Russian Airstrikes Hit US-Trained Force in Syria

Russian jets on Wednesday accidentally bombed US-backed forces in Syria, a top United States general said Wednesday.

"I don't foresee us bringing in large numbers of coalition troops, mainly because what we're doing is, in fact, working", Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend told a Pentagon news briefing, speaking via video conference from Baghdad.

Townsend said US forces were "four or five kilometers away" advising "at command echelons a little bit farther back" when the strikes occurred on the villages.

Forces of the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russian airstrikes, have moved into the region from the south. Elements of the Turkish military supporting the Free Syrian Army militia are also operating against ISIS in the area. "It's very hard and complicated".

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"The ISIS fighters withdrew, and the Syrian Arab Coalition fighters advanced into those villages", Townsend said of the fighters who were targeted, using a common acronym for the Islamic State.

In this photo taken on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, Russian SU-24M jet fighter armed with laser guided bombs takes off from a runaway at Hmeimim airbase in Syria.

Speaking at a small American outpost near Manbij, Townsend said that before the push for Raqqa can fully kick off, the whole SDF - Arab and Kurdish alike - are "going to need additional combat power". "And we used that mechanism and it worked". He said the USA leaves it to partnered forces to report on casualties they may suffer.

An analysis from the Institute for the Study of War Wednesday said if the Turks moved on Manbij, it would "derail the USA -backed campaign against ISIS and create opportunities for al Qaeda to expand further in Syria".

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