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General says Russian Federation almost bombed United States forces in Syria in ISIS fight

04 March 2017

However, Townsend said the us military wouldn't be deterred by the Russian airstrike, but rather remain focused on continuing to fight alongside Russia against Islamic State militants in Syria.

Russian and Syrian regime forces mistakenly bombed United States-backed fighters in Syria Tuesday near the city of al-Bab, the top us military commander overseeing anti-ISIS operations in Iraq and Syria said Wednesday. "Yet, on the ground were some of our Syrian Arab Coalition [an SDF faction]", General Townsend said.

"It became apparent that the strikes were falling on some of the Syrian Arab Coalition positions and some quick calls were made to our deconfliction channels and the Russians acknowledged and stopped - stopped bombing there".

"Neither Syrian nor Russian aircraft carried out any airstrikes against the areas mentioned by the American side", TASS quoted the statement by Russian Defence Ministry as saying.

ISIS has been dealt another significant blow in Syria, where Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated Bab, the last significant ISIS-controlled population center in the Aleppo district, Townsend said, noting that freeing Bab closed the door to ISIS' supply line of new fighters and its ability to export terrorists around the world. "Actually on the ground were some of our Syrian Arab coalition forces".

Townsend said the bombings occurred south and east of al-Bab.

The United States now fields less than 6,000 troops in both Iraq and Syria, a far cry from a peak of about 170,000 to Iraq under President George W. Bush.

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Townsend, who commands US forces in Iraq and Syria, said these groups are "bumping up against each other" around the city, adding "three armies and an enemy force have all converged within the same grid square, so it's very hard and complicated" to know just who is where. This is something that goes on daily in the air. "We've seen them use ... tunnels, shipping containers and vehicles in the streets to slow the [Iraqi forces] down, and they've rigged many of these barriers with explosives".

"To prevent any such incidents, a US representative gave precise coordinates of the USA -backed opposition forces in that area to a Russian military officer", the statement said. Turkey has objected to the idea, but Townsend reiterated today that the assault of the ISIS capital of Raqqa would involve Kurdish fighters.

"There were USA forces in the area", he added.

But in February, Russia did admit to accidentally bombing Turkish soldiers in Syria.

"And so we worked out an arrangement, a deconfliction".

Townsend said USA intelligence estimates put the number of IS fighters in Iraq and Syria combined at 12,000 to 15,000.

General says Russian Federation almost bombed United States forces in Syria in ISIS fight