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Pentagon says human errors behind Syria troop deaths

| Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, 10:06 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A U.S. military investigation has found that “unintentional human errors” led to a coalition airstrike that mistakenly killed dozens of Syrian-backed troops this fall, but it did not recommend disciplining anyone for the deadly attack.

The Sept. 17 air raid on a garrison in the eastern Syrian town of Dair Alzour is one of the worst coalition errors to emerge since the Obama administration began an air war against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria in mid-2014.

The attack, which was in an area also frequented by Russian forces, led to sharp criticism from Moscow after it emerged that Russian attempts to use a communications hotline to stop the attack were not answered for nearly half an hour.

Russia's defense ministry has said the attack killed 62 Syrian troops, wounded 100 more and opened the way for an Islamic State offensive in the area. It also helped destroy an already fragile U.S.-Russian cease-fire.

A four-page redacted summary of the investigation that was released Tuesday concluded that the botched bombing did not violate international laws of armed conflict.

Warplanes from the United States, Australia, Denmark and Britain bombed and strafed what the pilots thought was a concentration of Islamic State terrorists for nearly an hour.

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