The summary report on an investigation into US and allied air strikes on Syrian government troops has revealed irregularities in decision-making consistent with a deliberate targeting of Syrian forces.I think that this shows very little doubt that the US military establishment, up to at least the commander in the theater, and probably up to the office of the Secretary of Defense, were actively sabotaging a decision of the President.
The report, released by US Central Command on 29 November, shows that senior US Air Force officers at the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) at al-Udeid Airbase in Qatar, who were responsible for the decision to carry out the September airstrike at Deir Ezzor:
Last week Brig. Gen. Richard Coe, the lead US official on the investigating team, told reporters that US air strikes in Deir Ezzor on 17 September, which killed at least 62 – and possibly more than 100 – Syrian army troops, was the unintentional result of “human error”.
- misled the Russians about where the US intended to strike so Russia could not warn that it was targeting Syrian troops
- ignored information and intelligence analysis warning that the positions to be struck were Syrian government rather than Islamic State
- shifted abruptly from a deliberate targeting process to an immediate strike in violation of normal Air Force procedures
The report itself says that the investigators found “no evidence of misconduct” – but it is highly critical of the decision process and does not offer any explanations for that series of irregularities.
How the strikes killed off ceasefire deal
The strikes against two Syrian army positions were the pivotal event in the breakdown of the Syrian ceasefire agreement reached between the United States and Russia in September. Both Moscow and Damascus denounced the strikes as a deliberate move by the Obama administration to support the Islamic State group and cited the attacks as the reason for declaring an end to the ceasefire on 19 September.
Heads should roll, but they won't.