July 22, 2016

RESET, PART II: Russia Bombed Base in Syria Used by U.S.

U.S. and British special forces based in Jordan cross the border into Syria on missions, helping maintain an unofficial buffer zone on Syrian soil to protect Jordan from Islamic State, U.S. officials said. The special forces would rendezvous with their rebel allies at the garrison, initially used by the CIA. For security reasons, the forces wouldn’t spend the night.

A contingent of about 20 British special forces pulled out of the facility less than 24 hours before the U.S. tracked Russian aircraft on June 16 flying across Syria to the garrison, according to U.S. military and intelligence officials briefed on the strike. The aircraft dropped cluster munitions on the target, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders.

After that first Russian strike, officers with the U.S. military’s Central Command air operations center in Qatar called their counterparts in Russia’s air campaign headquarters in Latakia, Syria, U.S. officials said. The American officers told the Russians that the garrison was part of the U.S. campaign against Islamic State and shouldn’t be attacked.

Roughly 90 minutes after the U.S. warning was delivered, U.S. aircraft circling nearby watched as the Russians launched a second wave of strikes against the garrison.

A U.S. military surveillance aircraft overhead tried to hail the Russian pilots directly using the frequencies which the U.S. and Russian governments had agreed to use in emergencies.

The Russian pilots didn’t respond.

The airstrike happened before John Kerry reached a deal with Moscow on joining forces against terrorist elements in the Syrian Civil War, which should leave you with no doubt about which side held the upper hand in the negotiations.

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