US Airstrike Mistakenly Kills 18 Friendly Fighters in Northern Syria

The U.S. military says a misdirected airstrike this week killed 18 friendly fighters battling ISIS alongside the international coalition in northern Syria.

U.S. Central Command said Thursday that coalition aircraft were given the wrong coordinates by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces for a strike intended to target militants south of their stronghold in Tabqa.

“The coalition’s deepest condolences go out to the members of the SDF and their families. The Coalition is in close contact with our SDF partners who have expressed a strong desire to remain focused on the fight against ISIS despite this tragic incident,” Central Command said in a statement. “The Coalition is assessing the cause of the incident and will implement appropriate safeguards to prevent similar incidents in the future.”

The Kurdish fighters, with air and ground support from the U.S.-led coalition, had surrounded Tabqa. But the Tuesday strike hit their position, killing 18 of them.Several nations have contributed air power to the coalition, and it was not immediately clear which was behind the strike.

It also was not clear how many such friendly fire strikes have happened since the campaign began against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in 2014.The coalition releases monthly reports of civilian casualties from airstrikes, both those confirmed and under investigation. But friendly fire strikes are tracked internally, said U.S. Army Col. Joe Scrocca, a Baghdad-based spokesman for the coalition. “The Coalition takes each of these incidents very seriously but we do not keep cumulative data on them like we do civilian casualties because they happen so infrequently,” he said.


Various news agencies contributed to this report.