On Wednesday, United States Lt. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend said that Russian forces bombed a site which was very close to some U.S-backed forces in Syria. The incident reportedly happened on Tuesday and it almost hit the American troops. It all took place in the northern part of Syria after the Russian pilots bombed what they thought were ISIS fighters. Those were actually belonging to the U.S.-backed Syrian Arab Coalition. The general characterized the whole incident as a mistake. The Russians immediately stopped the airstrike after the information was called in by some U.S. forces who were assisting Syrian fighters at the time.
Likely a mistake
Townsend talked with reporters through a teleconference from Baghdad. He explained the difficulty of the whole situation. Also, that it is sometimes difficult to see who is who on the battlefield. Some people also fell victim to those airstrikes outside the city of al-Bab. Their number is uncertain at the moment. Townsend also said that ISIS fighters have indeed been in that area. However, they had left to escape the forces that were getting closer and closer to them. This is probably the main reason why Russia mixed things up a little.
Russia denies everything
However, Russia sent out an official statement in which it denies not only bombing the U.S-backed forces but also being anywhere near that area. No Russian or Syrian airstrikes were carried out, according to the country. Still, it is not something unusual for Russia to deny certain facts for the existence of which there is solid proof. This incident took place the same day president Donald Trump was delivering his first address to a joint session of Congress. It was another occasion for the president to remind everyone about the ongoing fight against ISIS.
Another interesting fact Townsend specified was that the soldiers are going to keep on fighting the ISIS forces. However, that the officials will most likely not increase the number of the forces to do so. Apart from this, Townsend also said that one of the biggest problems right now is the big number of ISIS soldiers hiding among civilians. This will most probably end when the U.S troops will reach the cities and the areas with a higher population.
Some Turkish-backed forces took the al-Bab town, which is very close to the border with Turkey, from the Islamic State just last month. The confusion with the bombings probably happened because Syrians helped by the United States as well as Turks and Syrian forces backed by Russia are all fighting at the same time. So, sometimes it is difficult to realize what is actually happening in the area. Townsend also talked about a “deconfliction arrangement” with Russia which they use each day. This is in order to prevent each party from unintentionally hitting each other. So far, he said that this strategy worked. Still, it seems like unexpected events are still happening and the fighting is ongoing. We will see in the following weeks what is going to happen.
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