Once again underscoring the risk of US and Russian forces both operating in Syria while US officials continue to resist intelligence sharing, a “near-miss” incident has been reported in which Russian airstrikes landed “several miles” away from US positions.
Details on the matter of scant, as Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend described it as taking place in “a bunch of villages” in which US troops and their Arab Coalition allies were attacking ISIS. Russia thought it was also bombing ISIS in the same area, but hit some of the rebels.
Townsend insisted the matter was quickly resolved with a call to the “deconfliction” channel open with the Russians, adding that Russian bombings stopped right away after they found out they were hitting the wrong target. Such incidents are not common, but are also not unprecedented in the war.
That some US officials have been uncomfortable with providing details to Russia about where their troops are means such incidents are always a risk, however, as any time Russia launches airstrikes against ISIS forces, they are taking a calculated risk that US forces might be embedded somewhere nearby.