US probes ‘friendly fire’ strike on Syria allies
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US probes ‘friendly fire’ strike on Syria allies

Army spokesman says coalition airstrike near Aleppo last month ‘may have hit counter-ISIL forces,’ killing 4 people

In this Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014 photo released by the US Air Force, a formation of US Navy F-18E Super Hornets leaves after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over northern Iraq as part of US-led coalition airstrikes on IS targets in Syria. (AP/US Air Force, Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)
In this Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014 photo released by the US Air Force, a formation of US Navy F-18E Super Hornets leaves after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over northern Iraq as part of US-led coalition airstrikes on IS targets in Syria. (AP/US Air Force, Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

WASHINGTON — The coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Syria may have accidentally hit allied rebels during an air strike at the end of last month, a US military spokesman said Saturday.

Coalition forces carried out three air strikes against tactical IS units and vehicles near Ma’ra on May 28, Centcom spokesman Colonel Patrick Ryder said in a statement.

“The coalition was subsequently informed that one of the air strikes may have hit counter-ISIL forces and their vehicle, instead of ISIL forces. Initial reports were that four counter-ISIL personnel may have been killed in the strike,” he said, adding that an investigation was underway.

“We will continue our support of counter-ISIL forces and will apply any lessons learned derived from the investigation to improve our operation in the future,” Ryder said, confirming a Wall Street Journal report.

In this Sunday Feb. 15, 2015 file photo by the Syrian anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC) shows Syrian rebels firing locally made shells against Syrian government forces, in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC, File)
This Sunday Feb. 15, 2015 file photo by the Syrian anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC) shows Syrian rebels firing locally made shells against Syrian government forces, in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)

According to Centcom, the coalition had conducted three bombings that day in that area of the province of Aleppo, along the Turkish border, where heavy fighting took between rebels and jihadis has raged in recent weeks.

According to the Journal, the rebels hit by the bombing belonged to the Mutasim brigade, which claims to have lost 10 fighters in the strike.

The newspaper said the brigade is one of the groups that received weapons and equipment from the Pentagon as part of the US training program for Syrian rebels.

The $500 million program launched in early 2015 was suspended a few months later when the rebels failed to progress. It was relaunched this year in a simpler form.

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