US Coalition Airstrike Killed Allied Forces In Syria, Military Says

Meanwhile, a misdirected airstrike by the US-led coalition earlier this week killed 18 allied fighters battling the Islamic State group in Syria, the USA military said.

US Central Command said that coalition aircraft were given the wrong coordinates by their partner forces, the predominantly-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, for a strike meant to target Islamic State militants south of their Tabqa stronghold.

It is not clear which air force was behind the April 11 strike, which hit allied fighters in a "forward position". According to U.S. Central Command, the strike occurred on Tuesday.

The campaign has come at a cost to the predominantly Kurdish forces, which receive ground and air support from the USA military and other allies.

"The Coalition's deepest condolences go out to the members of the SDF and their families", CENTCOM said, calling the incident "tragic". 'The Coalition is assessing the cause of the incident and will implement appropriate safeguards to prevent similar incidents in the future'.

The SDF meanwhile announced the launch of a fourth phase of their campaign to capture Raqqa, a Euphrates River city that is home to 300,000 people. But the countryside south of Raqqa is still under ISIS control.

The inaccurate coordinates reportedly came from the SDF itself. The military said it had no evidence of civilians being killed. That city is roughly 30 miles west of the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.

A British delegation at a behind-closed-doors meeting of the global chemical weapons watchdog says in a tweet that the organization's director general has said that its investigators already are testing samples from a suspected deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria's Idlib province.

A senior USA official told CNN that the communications involved discussions of preparations for last week's chemical weapons attack.

"Definitely, 100 percent for us, it's fabrication", Assad told Agence France-Presse in his first comments since a USA missile strike on a Syrian air base in response to the chemical attack.

He said Russian Federation vetoed a Western draft United Nations resolution on Wednesday because it failed to mention the need to inspect the area of the attack.

Since the air strikes, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the AFP that the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhun was a "100 percent fabrication".

It said after the airstrike left white smoke billowing from the area then then turned to yellow "most likely because of the explosion of a large warehouse containing large quantities of toxic substances".

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