September 2016 Deir ez-Zor air raid
The Deir ez-Zor air raid was a series of 37 U.S.-led Coalition airstrikes near the Deir ez-Zor Airport in eastern Syria on 17 September 2016, lasting from 3:55 p.m. to 4:56 p.m. Damascus time, that killed between 50 and 60 Syrian Army soldiers and wounded 30 more. The United States said that the intended target was Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants and that the attack on Syrian soldiers was due to a misidentification of ground forces while the Syrian and Russian governments claimed that it was an intentional attack against Syrian troops. The attack triggered "a diplomatic firestorm" with Russia calling an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting. Later the Syrian government called off a ceasefire that had been the result of months of intense diplomatic efforts by the U.S. and Russian governments.
|Part of the American-led intervention in Syria|
Jabal Tardah (Syria)
|Date||17 September 2016|
|Location||Deir ez-Zor Airport, Deir ez-Zor, Syria (For a war map of the current situation, see here.)|
|Cause||Airstrikes by CJTF-OIR aircraft|
After the cancellation of the ceasefire by the Syrian government, an aid convoy near Aleppo was attacked, which the U.S. coalition's governments called a retaliatory attack by the Syrian and/or Russian governments, an accusation denied by both governments. The dispute led to an end of U.S.-Russian bilateral peace talks on Syria. Russia used the air raid to justify enhancing its missile air defenses in Syria and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would go on to claim that the breakdown of the ceasefire helped lead to the eventual capture of rebel-held East Aleppo by Syrian government forces. The attack also led to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which was besieging the Syrian-government held city of Deir ez-Zor, capturing multiple strategic points around the Deir ez-Zor airport.
Accusations of previous attacks
Previously, in December 2015, the Syrian government made an accusation, rejected by the U.S., that United States forces killed 3 Syrian soldiers and wounded 13 others during a Sunday evening attack on a camp in Deir al-Zour province. The U.S. led coalition had been targeting ISIL militants in Syria since September 2014 although it has never coordinated any attacks with the Syrian government, which it had been trying to overthrow.
U.S.-Russian brokered Syrian ceasefire
At the time of this attack, a U.S. and Russian brokered ceasefire, which had come into effect on Monday 12 September 2016 at 7 p.m. Syria time (1600 GMT) and was intended to last one week, had been in place for more than its fifth day and was less than 48 hours away from its completion which, had its completion come to pass, would have resulted in the U.S. and Russia jointly creating and running, per the ceasefire agreement, "the Joint Implementation Group" – an intelligence sharing group that would have been dedicated to coordinating U.S. and Russian attacks against al-Qaeda and ISIL in Syria. Some of the United States' top national security officials, particularly the Pentagon, were opposed to the creation of the Joint Implementation Group, fearing that its implementation would allow the Russian government to obtain important information about the functioning of the U.S. military. The agreement would have also seen the U.S. gain a veto, ensured by Russia, over the Syrian government's air force's combat missions over opposition and civilian-controlled areas, which at that time included the city of Aleppo. The ceasefire had been the result of months of "intensive diplomacy," primarily between the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, but also between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, that had begun in July 2016.
Siege of Deir ez-Zor
Deir Ez Zor district at the time was one of the few remaining Syrian Government strongholds in Eastern Syria. In May 2015, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (also referred to as IS, ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh) militants launched an offensive, capturing both Palmyra and the area surrounding Deir ez-Zor, and cutting off the remaining supply line to Deir ez-Zor. The city was then effectively under siege by ISIL, leaving supplies to be solely delivered by transport helicopters. Consequently, ISIL began launching frequent attacks, which continued until 10 September 2017, against the Deir ez-Zor Airport with the aim of halting the delivery of supplies. Government resupply was made possible by the Syrian government's control of the Thardah Mountains, a nearby artillery base, and other areas near the airport since control of these areas prevented ISIL from attacking resupply aircraft flying into and out of the airport. For this reason, Deir ez-Zor Airport and its surrounding areas were considered by the Syrian government to be strategically crucial to its continued control of Deir ez-Zor. The Thardah Mountains (Jabal Turdah in Arabic) refers to a group of hills and mountains west and south-west of the Deir ez-Zor Airbase, on some of which there were set up Syrian government defensive positions referred to as points. This range includes Thardah hill (point 1) in the south-east of the range, Kroum hill (tal Kroum) in the north of the range, a mountain (point 2) in between these last two hills that is also referred to as Thartah mountain, a hill (point 3) in the south-west of the range, and others. A pro-Syrian government news outlet reported that on 17 September 2016, prior to the airstrikes, the Syrian Army was in control of Kroum hill and points 1 and 2.
The Russian Defence Ministry said the attack was conducted by four jets, including two A-10 (a single-seat aircraft operated solely by the U.S. military) and two F-16 close air support and ground attack aircraft and the U.S. Central Command stated that the attack was carried out by American, British, Danish, and Australian warplanes. The Royal Danish Air Force released a statement saying that two of its F-16's were involved in the airstrikes and the British released a statement saying that their armed Reaper drones also took part in the operation. The Australian Defence Force released a statement that two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18A were involved in the strike together with a RAAF E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft.
Incorrect information passed through the deconfliction hotline
At the time, the U.S. central command in Qatar was in communication with Russia, an ally of the Syrian government, via a special U.S.-Russia deconfliction hotline. According to the U.S.'s investigation into this incident, this hotline was used for the first time on 17 September 2016 to inform the Russians about these impending airstrikes, which were planned to attack two target areas approximately 3 to 6 km southwest of the Deir Ezzor airfield. The U.S. coalition operator misinformed his Russian counterpart about the location of the impending strikes, telling the Russians that they were to occur 9 km south of the Deir Ezzor airfield when they were actually planned to occur 9 km south of Deir Ezzor city and approximately 3 to 6 km south of the airfield. This mistake, the coalition's report notes, "may have affected the Russian response to the notification and caused considerable confusion in the DT process."
The Coalition raid
On 17 September 2016, the U.S.-led coalition began attacking Syrian troops at 3:55 p.m. Syria time (13:55Z). The bombs hit Syrian Army positions on the Tharda Mountain and at a nearby artillery base. Russia and Syria reported that the attack was carried out at 5 p.m. by the U.S.-led coalition, without naming the countries involved. The New York Times was reportedly informed by an anonymous CENTCOM official that "the strike began in the early evening, when planes attacked a group of vehicles that American surveillance aircraft had been watching for several days" after which U.S. military intelligence concluded that the group, which reportedly included at least one tank, belonged to ISIL. This same official then reportedly said that "the attack went on for about 20 minutes, with the planes destroying the vehicles and gunning down dozens of people in the open desert."
Russia called the U.S. Central Command (U.S. CENTCOM) in Qatar at 4:25 p.m. (14:25Z) but was unable to find the designated contact, who was, according to U.S. CENTCOM, away from his desk at the time. According to the U.S. coalition's investigation, the Russian operator "elected to wait to speak to their usual point of contact (POC) rather than pass the information immediately to the Battle Director" which "led to a delay of 27 minutes, during which 15 of the 37 strikes were conducted." Although according to the coalition report the Russian operator had elected to wait for his POC, there was also reportedly a subsequent Russian call to U.S. CENTCOM that was answered at 4:52 p.m. (14:52Z) and that resulted in the airstrikes being called off "within minutes," according to a U.S. CENTCOM spokesman, who also said that "a good amount of strikes" had already taken place. According to the U.S. coalition's investigation, at 4:56 p.m. (14:56Z) coalition aircraft ceased fire and left the area.
An anonymous senior officer from the 123rd Regiment of the Syrian Arab Army (whose unit was reportedly one of those targeted) reportedly claimed that more than half of the Syrian Army soldiers killed by the airstrikes died at points 1 and 2, which are right next to (and to the west of) the Deir ez-Zor airport, and that "the majority of the airstrikes were not conducted near the front-lines" [of where ISIL and the Syrian Army were battling]. According to the pro-Syrian government outlet that conducted this interview, the airstrikes "took out" the Syrian Army's defensive positions at points 1 and 2, points that had formed their last lines of defense of the airport, causing the Syrian army units fighting at the outskirts of Jabal Thardeh to retreat to defend these points and that one week later, ISIL had forced the Syrian Army to completely withdraw from even these last two points.
The initial casualty estimate given by the Russian and Syrian governments was that 62 Syrian government soldiers were killed and 100 were wounded. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the death toll to be 50, with 30 wounded. In late September, the pro-government Al Masdar News raised the death toll to 60.
Subsequent ISIL attack on the mountain
An unnamed military source claimed that an ISIL ground attack was conducted just seven minutes after the Coalition attack. Pro-Syrian government outlets later asserted that this claim provided evidence of U.S.-ISIL collaboration. The ISIL attack allowed them to take control of Tharda mountain, which was seen as strategic as it looks over the government-held Deir ez-Zor military airbase.
On 17 September, the Syrian Army recaptured some points and by the end of the day, after heavy ground fighting combined with Russian and Syrian airstrikes that left over 38 ISIL fighters dead, the Syrian Army recaptured all of the positions they had lost on the mountain (including Tall Kroum). During the clashes, a Syrian MiG warplane was shot down by ISIL over the mountain and the pilot was killed. The next day, ISIL was once again in control of the mountain after the military withdrew, creating a serious threat to the airport's southern flank.
The Syrian Army would later once again recapture some points although they would not able to hold onto them, soon losing them in an ISLS attack, launched on Wednesday 21 September from Point 3, which saw ISIL take points 1 and 2 and establish full control over Jabal Thardeh. Also, ISIL captured the Artillery Battalion (south of Deir ez-Zor Airport). In early October 2016, the Syrian Army recaptured Point 1 at Jabal Thardeh, paving the way to advances near the Panorama Checkpoint and Kroum Hill. The Syrian Armyalso launched another attack that targeted Point 2 at Jabal Thardeh.
The attack triggered "a diplomatic firestorm", with Russia calling an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting in response to the incident, during which both the U.S. and Russian ambassadors chastised each other. The U.S. coalition declared that the attacks had been intended to hit the Islamic State while Russia and Syria declared that the Syrian government had been the intended target, with two motives being claimed: the derailment of the ceasefire (to prevent the implementation of the Joint Implementation Group) and/or to aid ISIL's capture of Deir ez-Zor.
Immediate military consequences
It was reported by a pro-Syrian government news outlet that the day after the attack, Syrian government forces began firing at a coalition reconnaissance drone flying over the Thardeh mountains, whereas prior to the attack the Syrian government had essentially ignored the coalition's drones. On 6 October 2016, after Russia had recently deployed additional missile defense systems to Syria and after U.S. media indications that the coalition may attack the Syrian government, a Russian military spokesman gave a strong warning to the U.S. against attacking the Syrian military. In reference to the Deir ez-Zor attack, the spokesman said that "we have taken all the necessary measures to prevent any such 'mistakes' with regard to Russian servicemen and military facilities in Syria" and he further warned the U.S. coalition that in case of a perceived coalition threat to the Syrian military, the "Russian air defense missile crews will unlikely have time to clarify via the hotline the exact flight programme of the missiles or the ownership of their carriers."
Breakdown of ceasefire and aid convoy attack
A ceasefire, which had been the result of almost three month of "intensive diplomacy" primarily between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, but also between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, had been in place in Syria at the time of the coalition attack. Days after the attack, on Monday 19 September, exactly seven days after the ceasefire had come into effect, the Syrian government declared the ceasefire over effective at 7:00 p.m. (Damascus Time) that same day. Shortly afterwards that same day, beginning sometime between 7:12 – 7:50 p.m. or at around 8 p.m., an aid convoy near Aleppo was attacked with the U.S. and its allies blaming the Syrian government for the attack, an accusation rejected by the Syrian government. The U.S. State Department later repeatedly cited the aid convoy attack as being the primary reason for the failure of the cessation of hostilities agreement as well as an important reason behind John Kerry's decision to end the U.S.'s bilateral Syrian peace talks with Russia. The Russian government, however, considered the Deir ez-Zor attack to be the key event that led to the breakdown of the ceasefire agreement.
Battle of Aleppo
In an 18 December 2016 interview, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated that he believes that had the ceasefire not collapsed then the United States could have prevented the December capture of rebel-held Eastern Aleppo by the Syrian Army since the ceasefire agreement would have made it so that "Russia gave us [the U.S.] a veto over their flights and over what they were doing in the area, had we set up a joint cooperative effort," which could have resulted in "a different situation there conceivably now if we’d been able to do that."
Diplomatic and media reactions
The coalition asserted that the Deir ez-Zor bombing of Syrian troops was accidental and the U.S. "relayed our regret through the Russian Federation for the unintentional loss of life of Syrian forces fighting ISIL" while the Syrian and Russian governments said that they believed that the strikes were intentional which led to accusations, unequivocally rejected by the U.S. and its allies, that the coalition was acting as ISIL's airforce. That day, the U.S. military said in a statement that "coalition forces would not intentionally strike a known Syrian military unit" while the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman was quoted as saying that "after today’s attack on the Syrian army, we come to the terrible conclusion that the White House is defending the Islamic State." The Syrian government released a statement saying that the air strikes were "conclusive evidence" of its long-held assertion that the U.S. and its allies were supporting ISIL and other jihadist groups as part of an effort to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian government's accusation that the U.S. and its allies had bombed Syrian forces to support ISIL was circulated widely and taken seriously by pro-government Syrian news outlets and to various extents among the outlets of some of Syria's allies, while very few media outlets run from the coalition's member states took the accusations seriously, largely considering them to be conspiracy theories. Despite the U.S. coalition never indicating that the attack was intended to help the Syrian government, some analysts and media outlets in the U.S. and the U.K. considered the attack "a rare, even unprecedented attempt to assist regime forces battling ISIS in the area." Faysal Itani, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said that "U.S. airstrikes on ISIS in such close proximity to regime positions are unusual" and that the strikes "arguably constitute close air support for [the Syrian] regime." One BBC analyst criticized the U.S. coalition for planning a strike against ISIL that would have had the effect of aiding the Syrian government.
Both the Russian and Syrian governments considered this airstrike to be "proof" that the U.S. was sympathetic to ISIL, an accusation that they would later repeatedly try to justify by presenting what they considered to be evidence. This claimed evidence can be exemplified by the Russian U.N. permanent representative's statements, as reported by a pro-Syrian government outlet, during the special U.N. security council meeting, which the U.S. envoy to the U.N. later referred to as "a stunt". During the security council meeting, the Russian representative stated that "Russia believes the United States attack on the Syrian Army was not a mistake," declared that the "US Airstrike was intended to disrupt the ceasefire process and to drive the situation out of control," and suggested that "the airstrike has been conducted in order to derail the operation of the Joint Implementation Group and actually prevent it from being set in motion." He went on to ask accusatory questions such as why the U.S. would suddenly want to help the Syrian Army after years of doing nothing and why the U.S. did nothing when ISIL took Palmyra. The timing of ISIL's subsequent attack on the Syrian troops that reportedly occurred 7 minutes after the air strikes is also frequently claimed by pro-Syrian government outlets to be evidence of the U.S. government helping ISIL. All levels of the Russian and Syrian governments would continue to repeatedly refer to this airstrike. For instance, even the Russian President Vladimir Putin, nearly a month after the attack, said in an interview with French television:
- Our American colleagues told us that this airstrike was made in error. This error cost the lives of 80 people and, also just coincidence, perhaps, ISIS took the offensive immediately afterwards. At the same time, lower down the ranks, at the operations level, one of the American military service personnel said quite frankly that they spent several days preparing this strike. How could they make an error if they were several days in preparation? This is how our ceasefire agreement ended up broken. Who broke the agreement? Was it us? No.
2016 Mosul offensive
For the 2016 Mosul offensive against ISIL in Iraq, a neighbor of Syria, the coalition had originally planned to leave Mosul's Western corridor open for ISIL militants to flee into Syria. The two largest Syrian cities that these militants could flee to were Raqqa, ISIL's self-proclaimed capital, and Deir Ez-zor. In light of the coalition's attacks at Deir Ez-zor, this led to concerns among Syria, Iran, and some Iraqi Shia groups, that the actual intent of the corridor was to effect an accumulation of these ISIL fighters around Syrian government troops at Deir Ez-zor so that ISIL would then attack and capture this city where proponents of this claim often indicate that this plot's purpose would be to reduce Syrian and Iranian government influence in the region by cutting the Shia Crescent. Specifically, according to a Russian government news agency which was reportedly citing an unnamed diplomat, the concern was that "more than 9,000 Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) militants will be redeployed from Mosul to the eastern regions of Syria to carry out a major offensive operation, which involves capturing Deir ez-Zor and Palmyra."
In a 12 October 2016 address to Iraqi civilian and military leadership and to Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU), Hezbollah's Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah informed the audience about his belief that "the Americans intend to repeat [the] Fallujah plot when they opened a way for ISIL to escape towards eastern Syria before the Iraqi warplanes targeted the terrorists’ convoy, warning that the same deceptive scheme is possible to be carried out in Mosul." On 20 October 2016 the Iraqi PMU began planning an operation to close ISIL's escape route from Mosul. Against the wishes of the U.S. coalition in Iraq, which supported the Iraqi forces against ISIL in the Battle of Mosul, the PMF stated on 29 October that they had launched an (eventually successful) offensive towards the west of Mosul aiming to capture villages west of Mosul and reach the town of Tal Afar in order to prevent ISIL fighters from retreating into neighboring Syria or receiving any reinforcement for their defense of Mosul. They were tasked with recapturing around 14,000 km2 of territory from ISIL and they also stated that they would not enter Mosul.
Shortly after the attack, the U.S. coalition began an internal investigation, led by U.S. Brigadier General Richard Coe and another unnamed coalition officer, into how the airstrikes could have targeted Syrian government forces. A redacted copy of the report's executive summary was released to the public on 29 November 2016. One of the conclusions of the report was that the attacks had been conducted "in good faith" that they were targeting ISIL militants and that they were consequently "in accordance with the law of armed conflict and the applicable rules of engagement for all nations involved." The internal investigation, which interviewed "70 U.S. and coalition personnel" had "found no evidence of misconduct" and went on to list lessons to be learned from the airstrikes, including areas for improvement.
According to the report, "both target areas contained tunnels and defensive fighting positions" and it went on to assert that the soldiers manning these defensive positions "wore a mix of tradition wear, civilian attire and military style clothing that lacked uniformity," which was reportedly a factor leading to the conclusion that they were ISIL militants. Another factor was "information flow" since "concerns raised by the Distributed Ground Station (DGS) during pre and post-strike approval that the ground force could not be Da'esh were not communicated to the DT Chief or TEA." On 30 November 2016, the Australian Defence Force released a statement referring to the report and also stated that the forces were "not wearing recognisable military uniforms or displaying indentifying (sic) flags or markings".
Immediate Coalition response to the attack
United States: Initially, the US Armed Forces did not outright admit that Coalition planes hit Syrian troops, but later the U.S.-led Coalition admitted their planes carried out the attack. The U.S. stated they halted the strikes as soon as they became aware of the Syrian Army presence and regretted the unintentional loss of life. Australia: Australia's Department of Defence acknowledged its participation "among a number of international aircraft". It said it would "never intentionally target a known Syrian military unit or actively support Daesh (ISIS)" and offered its condolences. Denmark: Denmark's Ministry of Defence confirmed in a statement that 2 F-16s from the Royal Danish Air Force had participated in coalition airstrikes in Deir ez-Zor. Airstrikes were immediately stopped after it was revealed that they hit Syrian Army forces and the Defence Ministry "regretted" that the bombings hit anti-ISIL forces. UK: The United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence said in a statement it "can confirm that the UK participated in the recent coalition air strike ... fully co-operating with the coalition investigation."
- "Syria ceasefire under threat after U.S.-led strikes kill regime troops, Russia says". 18 September 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- "164 killed yesterday 17/09/2016". SOHR. 18 September 2016.
- Fadel, Leith (27 September 2016). "US Coalition knew they were bombing the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor". Al-Masdar.
- CNN, Steve Almasy, Barbara Starr and Richard Roth. "Russia: Coalition strike kills Syrian forces". Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- Brig. Gen. Richard Coe; et al. (2 November 2016). "Memorandum for USAFCENT/CC" (PDF).
- "Syria ceasefire under threat after US-led strikes kill regime troops, Russia says". CNN. 18 September 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
- 'Syria's civil war: US and Russia clinch ceasefire deal'. Al Jazeera, 11 September 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
- Viser, Matt (18 December 2016). "Kerry leaves a legacy of hope in role at State". Boston Globe. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
More recently, he has clashed inside the administration with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Kerry negotiated an agreement with Russia to share joint military operations, but it fell apart. "Unfortunately we had divisions within our own ranks that made the implementation of that extremely hard to accomplish,” Kerry said. “But I believe in it, I think it can work, could have worked." "It’s late now obviously because of what’s happened to Aleppo," he said. “But the fact is we had an agreement in which Russia gave us a veto over their flights and over what they were doing in the area, had we set up a joint cooperative effort." "Now we had people in our government who were bitterly opposed to doing that," he said. "I regret that. I think that was a mistake. I think you’d have a different situation there conceivably now if we’d been able to do that."
- "Syria conflict: Coalition denies air strike on army camp". BBC News. 7 December 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
- "Tenuous U.S.-Russia brokered cease-fire in Syria starts". CBS/AP. 12 September 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
- Paul Mcleary (20 September 2016). "Russia Had to Call U.S. Twice to Stop Syria Airstrike". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
- DeYoung, Karen (9 September 2016). "U.S., Russia reach deal on cease-fire in Syria". Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- "IS launches full-on assault on Palmyra". Syria Direct. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- Chris Tomson (12 December 2015). "100,000 Civilians under ISIS Siege in Eastern Syria". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
Deir Ez-Zor is roughly split 50/50 between the Syrian government and the hostile Islamic State. However, with ISIS’ capture of Palmyra earlier this year, government troops have come under increasing pressure as their last supply line to the city has been cut. This has left the army and local inhabitants of the city completely dependent on supplies being flown in by helicopter. In an attempt to halt the flow of supplies, ISIS fighters have launched daily attacks on Deir Ez-Zor Airbase for months;
- Fadel, Leith (27 September 2016). "US Coalition knew they were bombing the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
The senior officer, who asked Al-Masdar to keep his name anonymous, stated that prior to the airstrikes, the U.S. Coalition had flown several reconnaissance drones above their positions at Jabal Thardeh. [...] On the day of the Islamic State offensive at Jabal Thardeh, the Syrian Armed Forces were in full control of this strategic mountaintop and the nearby hilltop of Tal Kroum. The senior officer lost a dozen soldiers from his unit during the Coalition airstrikes over Jabal Thardeh; furthermore, these fallen soldiers were not at the front-lines. Of the 106 soldiers killed at Jabal Thardeh by the U.S. Coalition, more than half of them died at points 1 and 2, which are located right next to the Deir Ezzor Military Airport. Accidents often happen in battle; however, the majority of the airstrikes were not conducted near the front-lines. The U.S. Coalition’s airstrikes took out the Syrian Arab Army’s last-line of defense at the Deir Ezzor Military Airport, forcing many of the soldiers fighting ISIS at the outskirts of Jabal Thardeh to withdraw to points 1 and 2.
- "Russian MoD Confirms US-Led Coalition's F-16, A-10 Jets Attacked Syrian Army". 17 September 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- "The Royal Danish Air Force participated in the recent airstrikes of the US-led coalition conducted near the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, the Defense Command Denmark announced". Sputnik News. 19 September 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
- "Investigation into Syrian air strikes completed". Department of Defence (Press release). 30 November 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- "News, Sports, Jobs – News and Sentinel".
- Anne Barnard; Mark Mazzetti (17 September 2016). "U.S. Admits Airstrike in Syria, Meant to Hit ISIS, Killed Syrian Troops". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
- "Source Discloses Coordination between U.S., ISIL in Attacking Syrian Army in Deir Ezzur". 18 September 2016.
- Leith Fadel (17 September 2016). "Syrian Army recovers territory in Deir Ezzor after U.S. attacks their positions". Al-Masdar. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
their forces have recaptured several points in Jabal Thardeh after retreating due U.S. airstrikes on their positions. The groups leading the counter-attack in Jabal Thardeh are the Qassem Units and 137th Artillery Brigade of the 17th Reserve Division. Intense clashes are still ongoing at Jabal Thardeh, as the Syrian Arab Army attempts to recapture all of the territory they lost over the last 30 minutes.
- McDowall, Angus; Osborn, Andrew. "U.S.-led forces strike Syrian troops, prompting emergency U.N. meeting". reuters.com. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- "Syria troops retake areas lost to Islamic State after U.S.-led air-strike accidentally hits government forces". 18 September 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016 – via Japan Times Online.
- "Syrian truce receives new blows with airstrikes, shelling". ap.org. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- Charkatli, Izat (18 September 2016). "Video: ISIS militants cheer atop Syrian soldiers killed by US air strikes". almasdarnews.com. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
Islamic State terrorists were able to take advantage of the situation and capture the imperative mountain. It is important to note that initially, the Syrian Army was able to recapture the mountain until ISIS launched a large-scale assault before the Syrian soldiers were able to fortify their positions and embolden their defenses.
- Hassan Ridha [@sayed_ridha] (18 September 2016). "IS controls most of Jabal Tharda and are once again overlooking DeirEzzor Airbase, aircraft can no longer land there" (Tweet). Retrieved 19 September 2016 – via Twitter.
- فيلا أويانين [@AlKurdi015] (18 September 2016). "IS again take large parts of Jabal Tharda clashes ongoing & accompanied with intensive shelling by SAA & air strikes" (Tweet). Retrieved 19 September 2016 – via Twitter.
- Leith Fadel (22 September 2016). "Battle for Deir Ezzor takes a turn for the worse as ISIS captures Jabal Thardeh". Al-Masdar. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
he Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) launched a major offensive in southwest Deir Ezzor on Wednesday, targeting the strategic Thardeh Mountains at the western rim of the provincial capital. ISIS launched their offensive from Point 3 at Jabal Thardeh, striking the Syrian Arab Army's (SAA) defenses along points 1 and 2 at the eastern slopes of the mountain. Following a fierce battle on Wednesday, the Islamic State terrorists were able to establish full control over the entire mountaintop, leaving them within striking distance of both the Deir Ezzor Military Airbase and provincial capital. [...] Much of the Islamic State’s success is a result of the U.S.’ airstrikes that fractured the Syrian Arab Army’s defenses at Jabal Thardeh.
- "Hassan Ridha on Twitter". twitter.com. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
- "Syrian Army advances in southwest Deir Ezzor". Al-Masdar. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
- "SAA/NDF advance in S Deir al-Zur in Thardah Mountain". Tutomap. 4 October 2016. Archived from the original on 28 October 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
- "Syria conflict: US air strikes 'kill dozens of government troops'". 18 September 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2016 – via www.bbc.com.
- Fadel, Leith (18 September 2016). "Syrian Army opens fire on US drone in Deir Ezzor". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
the 137th Brigade fired several shots at the U.S. reconnaissance drone in Jabal Thardeh, forcing it immediately leave the area after several warnings. Prior to the bombing that killed over 100 soldiers on Saturday, the Syrian Armed Forces allowed U.S. reconnaissance drones to freely fly above their positions in Deir Ezzor.
- "Russia 'ready to fend off' US strikes in Syria". The New Arab. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
- Leith Fadel (19 September 2016). "[Breaking] Syrian Army command declares ceasefire over". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
the Syrian Arab Army’s High Command announced that the nationwide ceasefire is over after a 7 day period. According to the Syrian Arab Army’s High Command, the nationwide ceasefire expires today, per the Russo-American agreement that was put in place 10 days ago. [...] The ceasefire is officially set to expire at 7:00 P.M. (Damascus Time).
- "UN opens probe into Syria aid convoy attack". AFP. France 24. 30 September 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
- Anne Barnard; Somini Sengupta (24 September 2016). "'From Paradise to Hell': How an Aid Convoy in Syria Was Blown Apart". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
- Louisa Loveluck; Thomas Gibbons-Neff (24 September 2016). "'Why did they wait to kill us?': How the attack on the aid convoy near Aleppo unfolded". The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
- "Putin: West responsible for Middle East instability and terrorism in Europe". Russia Today. 12 October 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
Putin also detailed his version of the breakdown of the long-negotiated joint operation between Washington and Moscow in Syria, claiming the key turning point was the September 16 US-led coalition strike on a Syrian army unit, which the Pentagon maintains was accident. "Our American colleagues told us that this airstrike was made in error. This error cost the lives of 80 people and, also just coincidence, perhaps, ISIS took the offensive immediately afterwards. At the same time, lower down the ranks, at the operations level, one of the American military service personnel said quite frankly that they spent several days preparing this strike. How could they make an error if they were several days in preparation?" said Putin. "This is how our ceasefire agreement ended up broken. Who broke the agreement? Was it us? No." Several western powers have since blamed Russia for what they claim was a retaliatory strike on a UN convoy on September 20.
- Sarah El Deeb (17 September 2016). "U.S. says it might have struck Syrian troops while targeting ISIS". Chicago Sun Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
- "Syria conflict: US air strikes 'kill dozens of government troops'". BBC News. 18 September 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
- Anne Barnard; Mark Mazzetti (17 September 2016). "U.S. Admits Airstrike in Syria, Meant to Hit ISIS, Killed Syrian Troops". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
- Jared Malsin (18 September 2016). "How a Mistaken U.S.-Led Air Attack Could End the Syria Cease-Fire". Time.
- "Syria conflict: US air attack endangers truce – Russia". BBC. 18 September 2016.
- Paul Antonopoulos (18 September 2016). "Churkin wonders about real US intentions behind Syria attack, discloses excerpts from Wahshington-Moscow Deal's document". Al Masdar News. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
- Paul Antonopoulos (18 September 2016). "Russia: Why did US want to help Syrian Army against ISIS after years of nothing". Retrieved 7 October 2016.
- Dominic Evans; Maher Chmaytelli; Patrick Markey (7 December 2016). "How Iran closed the Mosul 'horseshoe' and changed Iraq war". Reuters. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
- Loveday Morris; Mustafa Salim (16 October 2016). "Iraqi forces begin assault to retake Mosul from Islamic State". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
- Sarah Almukhtar; K. K. Rebecca Lai; Sergio Pecanha; Tim Wallac (1 November 2016). "The Battle for Mosul: Iraqi Forces Enter the City". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
- "US, Saudis to grant 9,000 ISIS fighters free passage from Iraqi Mosul to Syria – source". RT. 12 October 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
The PMU's attack on Mosul's western flank will close-off the Islamic State's pathway to the Syrian border, contrasting reports that the Iraqi Armed Forces are allowing the terrorist group to freely retreat to Syria.
- Fadel, Leith (13 October 2016). "US, Saudi Arabia to grant ISIS terrorists free passage from Mosul to Syria: reports". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
The U.S. and their Persian Gulf counterpart Saudi Arabia have reportedly agreed to allow an estimated 9,000 Islamic State terrorists free passage from the Iraqi city of Mosul to Syria, a military source told the Russian-based RIA Novosti News Agency on Wednesday. "More than 9,000 Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) militants will be redeployed from Mosul to the eastern regions of Syria to carry out a major offensive operation, which involves capturing Deir ez-Zor and Palmyra," [...] With Mosul being the Islamic State's capital in Iraq, the Iraqi Armed Forces would have to defeat a large army of terrorists in order to retake this key city. Unfortunately, the only place these terrorists are willing to go is Syria, where they can link back up with their allies in the provinces of Deir Ezzor, Al-Hasakah, Al-Raqqa, and Homs.
- "Источник рассказал о плане США перебросить боевиков ИГ из Мосула в Сирию". RIA. 12 October 2016.
"Более девяти тысяч боевиков ИГИЛ из Мосула будут переброшены в восточные районы Сирии для последующего проведения крупной наступательной операции, которая предусматривает захват Дейр-эз-Зора и Пальмиры", — добавил источник.
- "Sayyed Nasrallah Calls on Iraqis to Beware US Deceptive Plot: Strike, Arrest ISIL Terrorists in Mosul". Al Manar TV. 12 October 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- Fadel, Leith (20 October 2016). "Iraqi forces to block the Islamic State's pathway to Syria". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- "Shi'ite militias have launched an offensive on the western part of Mosul". NBC News. 29 October 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- Arango, Tim (29 October 2016). "Tal Afar, West of Mosul, Becomes Center of Battle for Influence in Iraq". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- "Live Updates Mosul Offensive: Day 13". Rudaw Media Network. 29 October 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
- "The Latest: Iraqi forces push into town south of Mosul". Associated Press. 29 October 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
- Carla Babb (29 November 2016). "US-led Coalition Blames Human Error in Strike on Syria-aligned Forces". Voice of America. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- Porter, Gareth (6 December 2016). "US strikes on Syrian troops: Report data contradicts 'mistake' claims". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- Oliphant, Roland (29 November 2016). "US blames 'human factors' for coalition airstrike that killed dozens of Syrian soldiers". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- Yuhas, Alan; agencies (17 September 2016). "UN security council to hold emergency meeting on US air strikes in Syria". Retrieved 18 September 2016 – via The Guardian.
- Youssef, Nancy A. (18 September 2016). "U.S. Admits It Bombed Syrian Troops". thedailybeast.com. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- "Australia acknowledges participating in US alliance attack on Syrian Army position in Deir Ezzor – Syrian Arab News Agency". Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- "Australian jets involved in botched air strike on Syrian army". 17 September 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- "Defence comments after attack in Syria". Joint Services Defence Command. 18 September 2016. Archived from the original on 19 September 2016.
- "Britain says took part in air strikes believed to have killed Syrian soldiers". Jerusalem Post. 19 September 2016.