The US-led coalition against the Islamic State in Syria in 2017 called an airstrike on a port-a-potty belonging to pro-Assad forces, Foreign Policy reported Monday.
The incident was halted by the air force but could have potentially led to an escalation with Iranian-backed militias.
It occurred near the American al-Tanf base, located near a strategic border crossing between Iraq and Syria and seen as essential to Iranian efforts to establish a land corridor stretching from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, where the Hezbollah terror group is based.
US forces have on several occasions carried out airstrikes on Iranian-linked forces moving near the garrison, claiming they were acting to protect their troops there.
On May 17, 2017, pro-regime forces with ties to Iran and/or Hezbollah moved some 21 miles from the base in a bid to meet up with another Iranian-backed group coming from Iraq, Foreign Policy said.
Coalition forces attacked the convoy, killing one man and destroying several vehicles. The militia was warned through Russia that it was not to advance toward the US base or bring in supplies.
The next day, a vehicle carrying a port-a-potty was seen moving toward the stalled convoy and the coalition ordered an airstrike. However, US Air Force commanders refused, saying it was not a lawful order.
“We stray from the Constitution when military commanders choose to use US military force against another state’s force in the absence of a credible, imminent threat,” a defense official told the magazine.
He called the notion that the portable toilet threatened US forces “ludicrous.”