Russian Bombers Strike American Special Ops Base In Syria, Even After U.S. Warned Russia Not To Bomb, Reports Say

Russian jets bombed an outpost in Syria last month used by both American and British special operations forces, who have been inside the war-torn country aiding Syrian rebel forces in the multi-front battle against ISIS, and against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, according to multiple media outlets, including Russia’s own Interfax news Agency.

The Russian jets, believed to be state-of-the art Sukhoi Su-34 “Fullback” fighters — of the same model as the jet pictured above on this page — battered the remote outpost about 10 miles from the Jordan border with cluster bombs, killing four rebel fighters there on June 16, but the Russian attack was reported in United States and British media only last week.

The attack came just a day after about 20 elite British Special Air Services troops pulled out of the base.

In another alarming development, U.S. military commanders warned the Russians to stay away from the Al Tanf base, but just 90 minutes later, the jets came roaring back and dropped another payload of deadly munitions on the outpost, according to Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The bombing raid is reported to have caused outrage in Washington, where United States officials ultimately decided to accept the Russian explanation that the bombing was a mistake, rather than risk a direct and potentially disastrous confrontation with the Russians.

The following video, released on July 21 by the Russian Defense Ministry, gives a glimpse of what Russian airstrikes in Syria look like. In the video, Russian bombers are seen striking what the defense ministry says are ISIS bases in the country that has been ravaged by a devastating and brutal civil war for more than five years.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, also cited by The Moscow Times, Russia may have designed the attack as a means to pressure the U.S. into cooperating more closely with the Russian military in the war against ISIS inside of Syria.

Unnamed officials in the United States military and intelligence services told WSJ reporters Adam Entous and Gordon Lubold that the Russian airstrikes “were part of a campaign by Moscow to pressure the Obama administration to agree to closer cooperation in the skies over Syria.”

But when Washington demanded an explanation for the attack from Moscow, the Russian response was that the airstrike was carried out in error, and that the Russian pilots thought they were attacking an outpost used by ISIS.

The Russian explanation would seem shaky, based on the U.S. warnings after the initial attack, and the attempt to communicate with the Russian pilots by United States spy plane in the air over Syria, whose desperate pleas to call off the second wave of bombings on the base was ignored by the Russians, who offered no reply.

A Russian source told Interfax that the attacks on the base were designed to punish the U.S. for refusing to turn over information about secret American operations in the area.

A U.S. intelligence official called the attack “very, very, serious,” according to a report in The Moscow Times, adding that the incident could have easily flared up into an aerial battle between United States and Russian fighters in the skies over Syria — a possibility that would, at the very least, cause a major diplomatic crisis between the United States and Russia

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But according to the media reports, the Russian forces were not finished after the doubled-up attack on the U.S. and British special operations base. Approximately one month later, on July 12, Russian bombers again struck a target with American connections — a Syrian camp that houses the family members of CIA-backed rebel fighters in Syria.

That attack reportedly killed two small children, ages 2 and 3, as well as two adult women and a man in his late 50s, according to the Telegraph report, as well as injuring 48 others. All of the victims in the Russian bombing of the camp, about 50 miles from the Al Tanf American and British base, were civilians.

[Image via Oleg V. Belyakov – AirTeamImages| Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and resized | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.]