Coalition aircraft on Tuesday bombed an allied Syrian Democratic Forces position it incorrectly thought was an Islamic State fighting position and killed 18 personnel, U.S. Central Command said Thursday.

In the release, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve said the April 11 airstrike was requested by partnered forces fighting ISIS south of Tabqah​, Syria, who identified it as an ISIS fighting position. The site was actually a forward SDF fighting position. The coalition described the airstrike as "misdirected."

In its daily summary of anti-ISIS airstrikes issued Wednesday, the coalition said its forces "conducted four strikes consisting of seven engagements against ISIS targets." The coalition said those strikes "engaged three ISIS tactical units; destroyed two fighting positions, two vehicles and a heavy weapons system."

"The coalition's deepest condolences go out to the members of the SDF and their families," the CENTCOM release said. "The coalition is in close contact with our SDF partners who have expressed a strong desire to remain focused on the fight against ISIS despite this tragic incident."

CENTCOM also said the coalition is investigating what caused the airstrike to go wrong, and "will implement appropriate safeguards to prevent similar incidents in the future."

The Syrian Democratic Forces consist of about 45,000 Kurdish and Arab troops, and are advancing on the strategic ISIS-held city of Raqqa. Tabqah​ is roughly 30 miles west of Raqqah​.

The Air Force referred questions on the airstrike to CENTCOM, which has not yet replied to an inquiry from Air Force Times.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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