Russia was notified of the planned strike – for the first time – using the “de-confliction” hotline, but was given the wrong location, Coe said. The target coordinates supplied by the US coalition were 9km (6 miles) off, he said.
When Russian officers called the hotline to report the strikes were targeting Syrian positions, they were kept on hold for 27 minutes because the US officer who was the designated point of contact was not available. The bombing continued in that interval, according to Coe, and stopped once the Russian message went through.
The airstrikes targeted Syrian forces near Deir ez-Zor the airport, a vital supply conduit for the enclave besieged by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) forces. Damascus has accused the US of deliberately targeting Syrian troops in order to scuttle the ceasefire negotiated in Geneva. The Pentagon has maintained the airstrike was an accident, and that ISIS was the intended target.