On Saturday, September 17th, a western coalition airstrike in #Syria targeted a government base, killing 62 members of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The soldiers have just fortified a hilltop position in Deir Ezzor Governorate and were engaged in hostilities against #ISIS militants in the region.

The militants proceeded to drive the SAA forces from the area and acquire the strategic hilltop. Despite the losses, and with the aid of Russian air support, the SAA re-captured the area within the day.

What Ceasefire?

The strategic situation relevance is dwarfed by the implications of the US directly firing on Syrian army forces. The act represented the first of such strikes since US involvement in the region, and a violation of the Russia-US brokered a ceasefire. The terms of the agreement prevented any faction from attacking any other, with the notable exception of Al-Nusra and ISIS/ISIL affiliates.

Following the event, President Putin called for an emergency closed-door UN Security Council meeting to allow the United States to provide an explanation. The United States' ambassador to the UN, Samantha Powers, left the meeting within the first ten minutes and blamed Russia for "hypocrisy" in her subsequent press conference.

The Russian Envoy, on the other hand, has criticized the United States for failing to coordinate and confirm the location of other forces prior to the strike. Russian Foreign Minister Churkin has accused the US of being "not serious" about fighting ISIS, and has described the event as "frankly suspicious."

Who was involved?

In the aftermath of the event, it has surfaced that the aircraft used to carry out the attack were not only American but included Danish, Australian and British planes. The first to admit its involvement was Canberra, which claimed to have been unaware of the fact that it was attacking Syrian forces. It further offered an explanation, saying that the strike was being conducted "against what was believed to be a Daesh [Isis] fighting position." The Australian aircraft used during the operation was an A-10 support bomber.

At around 16:00 (local time) the UK Ministry of Defence released a statement stating that "...the UK participated in the recent coalition air strike in Syria, south of Dayr az Zawr on Saturday and we are full cooperating with the coalition investigation". The statement went further to add that "The UK would not intentionally target Syrian military units." The British aircraft used to conduct a strike has been reported as a Reaper Drone.

Finally, the Danish Ministry of Defence released a statement mid-Monday that "“Two Danish F-16s took part along with the aircraft of other nations in these attacks". The statement went on to say that "the attack was stopped immediately following Russian reports that a Syrian military position had been hit. Obviously, it is regrettable if the coalition has mistakenly hit anything other than IS forces”. The Danish government has both reiterated its support for the ongoing coalition investigation of the event, as well as its continued operations in Syria.

The full contingent of aircrafts used, at present, thus appears to be: two Danish F-16, one Australian and one American A-10 support bomber, and one British Reaper UAV. #Middle East