An American airstrike against suspected Islamic State positions near the Syrian city of Raqqa ended with nearly 20 militia members allied with the U.S.-backed coalition dead.
The strike took place Tuesday near Syria’s Tabqa Dam, which was recently recaptured by members of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a constellation of indigenous Arab and Kurdish militias battling to oust Islamic State, or ISIS or ISIL, from the country.
“The strike was requested by the partnered forces, who had identified the target location as an ISIS fighting position. The target location was actually a forward Syrian Democratic Forces fighting position,” officials from U.S. Central Command said in a statement Thursday. In the end, 18 SDF militiamen were killed in the mistaken strike.
The areas in and around Taqba Dam have been the site of fierce fighting in recent weeks. The dam, along with the surrounding town and adjacent airfield, will also provide Syrian and coalition forces with a prime “launching point” for future U.S. and coalition-led operations once the looming advance on ISIS’s self-styled capital of Raqqa begins, he added.