Australian RAAF jets were involved in the accidental bombing of dozens of Syrian troops in US-led airstrikes targeted at Islamic State fighters.
More than 60 Syrian soldiers were reportedly killed.
The Australian Defence Force has confirmed its involvement but has not specified whether Australian Hornets launched the strikes or were just supporting planes.
“Australian aircraft were among a number of international aircraft taking part in this Coalition operation,” Defence said.
“Australia would never intentionally target a known Syrian military unit or actively support Daesh (IS). Defence offers its condolences to the families of any Syrian personnel killed or wounded in this incident.”
The ABC reports that the RAAF were immediately called off the operation when Russian officials advised that the targets may have been Syrian military personnel.
Russia’s Defence Ministry says the error is evidence of the US’s “stubborn refusal” to co-ordinate its actions against ISIS with Russia’s government.
The incident came less than a week into a Syrian ceasefire, brokered by the United States and Russia, aimed at stopping the five-year civil war.
Under the ceasefire deal, if the truce can last seven days and humanitarian access is granted, the United States and Russia will work together to target ISIS.
Read the ADF’s release in full below.
Overnight Coalition aircraft were conducting airstrikes in Eastern Syria against what was believed to be a Daesh 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.
Australian aircraft were among a number of international aircraft taking part in this Coalition operation around Dayr Az Zawr.
While Syria remains a dynamic and complex operating environment, Australia would never intentionally target a known Syrian military unit or actively support Daesh (also known as ISIL).
Defence offers its condolences to the families of any Syrian personnel killed or wounded in this incident.
As Australians would expect, the US-led Coalition will review this incident thoroughly and Australia will cooperate fully with this review.
In order to maintain the integrity of this review, Defence will not provide any further details at this time.
The ABC has more.
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