An airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Syria mistakenly killed 18 soldiers from a U.S.-backed rebel force battling the Islamic State, the military said Thursday.
“The strike was requested by the partnered forces, who had identified the target location as an ISIS fighting position,” U.S. Central Command said in a statement, using an acronym for the Islamic State. "The target location was actually a forward Syrian Democratic Forces fighting position."
The coalition airstrike occurred Tuesday near Tabqah, where U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are engaged in a key battle against the Islamic State over a strategically important dam. Those troops are the main U.S.-backed force battling the Islamic State in Syria.
The U.S. military is supporting Syrian Democratic Forces with airstrikes, helicopter gunships and Marine artillery in the battle around Tabqah, which is part of an overall offensive to isolate and then clear Raqqa of the militants.
“The coalition is in close contact with our SDF partners who have expressed a strong desire to remain focused on the fight against ISIS despite this tragic incident,” the statement said. “The coalition is assessing the cause of the incident and will implement appropriate safeguards to prevent similar incidents in the future.”