ShareThis Page

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.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.