General says Russian Federation almost bombed U.S. forces in Syria in ISIS fight

But IS fighters had withdrawn before the bombing, and members of what the Americans call the Syrian Arab Coalition had moved in, he said.

Russian and Syrian aircraft mistakenly bombed members of us -backed Syrian forces near the Syrian town of al-Bab, with USA troops just a few kilometers away, a top us general in Iraq said.

He referred to the Syrian forces to disclose the number and extent of the casualties.

Townsend said the various forces make the current situation very complicated, and urged all parties to focus on fighting ISIS. But senior USA officials have not cooperated directly with the Russians, in part because of legislation first passed in 2014 that forbids that kind of engagement because of Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

"Not a single air strike on the regions specified by the United States side was conducted by Russian or Syrian air forces", the statement said.

The United States now has about 500 troops in Syria, nearly all of them special operations commandos.

The deadly bombing run marks the second time in weeks that Russian planes have bombed friendly forces around al Bab.

Townsend said the United States is "still in decision-making stages" as to whether or not join the SDF assault on Raqqa "and what equipment they might need". Townsend, who spoke to reporters at the Pentagon from his headquarters in Baghdad, said he believes the Russians thought they were striking Islamic State positions in the village.

Others have said the Trump administration might seek to accelerate the assault on Raqqa by putting additional USA trainers and advisers into Syria and possibly sending small numbers of conventional forces to operate long-range artillery.

The villages were close to al Bab and about 15 or 20 km (10 to 12 miles) from the city of Manbij, Townsend said.

"I've talked to their leaders and we've watched them operate and they continually reassure us that they have no desire to attack Turkey, that they are not a threat to Turkey, in fact that they desire to have a good working relationship with Turkey", Townsend said. The U.S. has provided some air support for the Turkish forces when they have attacked ISIS positions, but have not participated in any of their clashes with the SDF. "We used that mechanism and it worked".

  • Rogelio Becker