19 Sep 2016

Australian Air Force Accidentally Bombs Syrian Army

Today we read the RAAF was part of an accidental attack on the Syrian Army. An attack that occurred during a ceasefire. While PM Turnbull is in the US discussing refugees, last PM Abbott is lecturing Europeans on dealing with refugees, many who come from Syria.
And wasn't the RAAF Middle East deployment Tony Abbott's work? It was, and although combating Islamic State seems a worthy cause, isn't this also a sectarian conflict that has gone on for 1300 years? How many sides are now engaged in the Syrian conflict? Far too many for a simple-minded country like Australia to deal with.

By David Wroe at SMH
Australian RAAF planes were involved in the accidental bombing of dozens of Syrian troops in a mistake that may have helped Islamic State fighters and exacerbated tensions as a fragile ceasefire continues to unravel.
Defence has not specified whether it was Australian Hornets that launched the strikes or just supporting planes that were involved.

Russia, which blamed the strikes for the death of 62 Syrian government troops, called an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council in response – a move the US branded a stunt given the scant regard Moscow or Damascus have shown even for civilian deaths previously.
The mishap came at a delicate time for the US-led effort against the Islamic State terror group, with a week-old ceasefire brokered by Washington and Moscow already teetering.







This photo, made from video taken from the Russian Defense Ministry web site, is an aerial image of the area east of ...
This photo, made from video taken from the Russian Defense Ministry web site, is an aerial image of the area east of Dayr-az-Zawr, Syria. Photo: AP
While Australia and its partners regard Bashar al-Assad as a dictator who they refuse to help militarily, the RAAF's mandate is strictly to target Islamic State fighters, who are among the Assad regime's enemies. The accidental killing of Syrian troops will further complicate the already fiendishly complex picture.
Defence issued a statement on Sunday afternoon saying that Australian aircraft were "among a number of international aircraft taking part in this Coalition operation" around the town of Dayr az-Zawr in Syria's north east.

It did not state whether RAAF Hornets dropped the bombs that killed the Syrian troops, but Russia reportedly said that the fighters involved were F-16s and A-10s, neither of which Australia operates.
If the Russian reports are correct, that leaves the possibility that an Australian Wedgetail command plane or a KC-30 aerial refueller were involved. RAAF Hornets have largely been bombing in neighbouring Iraq though they do sometimes carry out missions in Syria.
"Defence offers its condolences to the families of any Syrian personnel killed or wounded in this incident," the Defence statement said. "As Australians would expect, the US-led Coalition will review this incident thoroughly and Australia will cooperate fully with this review."
It said that coalition aircraft had been carrying out air strikes against "what was believed to be" an Islamic State fighting position that the coalition had been "tracking for some time". "However, shortly after the bombing commenced, Russian officials advised the Combined Air Operations Centre that the targets may have been Syrian military personnel. "Bombing ceased immediately." It said Australia would "never intentionally target a known Syrian military unit or actively support Daesh", using the alternative name for the Islamic State.
Syrian and Russian government spokesmen were quoted suggesting the coalition had launched the attack deliberately to help Islamic State and other rebels oust the Assad regime.
The coalition relies heavily on Russia for information about the operations of Syrian troops to avoid such mishaps – a process known as "deconfliction" – though this process is regarded as far from perfect.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said Russian officials did not raise concerns on Saturday when informed that coalition forces would be flying in the area.
The go-ahead for RAAF strikes goes through a lengthy process involving the Hornet pilots, commanders at the coalition control centre in the Persian Gulf and personnel on command planes such as the Wedgetail.
It's feared the strike at Jebel Tharda airport on Saturday will pave the way for Islamic State fighters to overrun the facility.
Syria's army general command said in a statement the attack was "conclusive evidence" of US support for Islamic State, noting that the strike was "dangerous and blatant aggression".
Islamic State said in a statement on its Amaq news channel it had gained "complete control" over Jebel Tharda.
The defence ministry in Russia, which has been aiding Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the five-year civil war, said US jets killed more than 60 Syrian soldiers in four strikes and a fierce battle had erupted near the airport.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group with contacts across the country, cited a military source at the airport as saying at least 80 Syrian soldiers had been killed in the strike.
Russia's Defence Ministry said if the coalition bombing was a mistake, it was evidence of Washington's "stubborn refusal" to co-ordinate its actions with Russia's government.
The US-led coalition has been conducting air strikes against Islamic State since September 2014 and is also supporting rebels against Assad elsewhere in Syria.
In December, Damascus accused US coalition warplanes of striking an army camp near Dayr az-Zawr but Washington said it was done by Russian jets.
The Observatory said Russian jets had been conducting bombing in the area at the same time, that Islamic State fighters took control of army positions on Jebel Tharda after the air strike and that clashes between them had followed.
A strike list issued by the US on Saturday said it had carried out a strike at Dayr az-Zawr against five Islamic State supply routes, as well as strikes near Raqqa and elsewhere in Syria.
Syria's army controls Dayr az-Zawr airport and parts of the city which are otherwise entirely surrounded by territory held by Islamic State.
Aaron David Miller, a Middle East analyst at the Wilson Center, said the episode was certain to make "an already complex situation more byzantine".
He said the strikes would "feed conspiracy theories that Washington is in league with ISIS," as well as create a pretext for Assad to avoid his commitments under the cease-fire deal. Miller added that the episode would create opportunities for President Vladimir Putin of Russia "to blast the US on the eve of the UN General Assembly", the global meeting in New York starting this week.
Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, accused Russia of pulling a "stunt" by calling for an emergency Security Council meeting over the episode.
with The Washington Post, Reuters

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