US says mis­taken coali­tion airstrikes in Syria were le­gal

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD -

The U.S. mil­i­tary on Tues­day blamed hu­man er­ror for what it called a mis­taken coali­tion air as­sault Sept. 17 that re­port­edly killed dozens of Syr­ian sol­diers. Tar­geters be­lieved they were di­rect­ing at­tacks on Is­lamic State fight­ers, and be­cause this was an hon­est mis­take the strikes did not vi­o­late the in­ter­na­tional law of armed con­flict, U.S. mil­i­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tors con­cluded.

Mul­ti­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties to avoid the mis­take were missed in a se­quence of events that be­gan with the er­ro­neous iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of a ve­hi­cle as be­long­ing to IS and ended when a Rus­sian mil­i­tary of­fi­cer called a U.S. Rus­sia tele­phone hot­line to alert the Amer­i­cans that the coali­tion strikes near Deir el-Zour were hit­ting Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces. The call prompted the Amer­i­cans to halt the at­tacks, but the chief U.S. in­ves­ti­ga­tor said if word from the Rus­sians had not been de­layed 27 min­utes, nearly half of the 30-plus strikes might not have been con­ducted.

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