Australian aircraft were involved in a US-led coalition operation which killed dozens of Syrian soldiers who were apparently mistaken for Islamic State fighters, the Defence Department has confirmed.
Between 62 and 83 Syrian soldiers who had been fighting IS militants were reportedly killed in the air strikes around the Deir al-Zor military airport in Syria’s east.
“Australian aircraft were among a number of international aircraft taking part in this Coalition operation,” the Defence Department said in a statement.
“Australia would never intentionally target a known Syrian military unit or actively support Daesh (IS). Defence offers its condolences to the families of any Syrian personnel killed or wounded in this incident.”
The Russian military earlier said two F-16s and two A-10 jets that flew into Syrian airspace from neighbouring Iraq carried out the actual attack. Neither type is listed as being in operation with the RAAF.
The strikes came less than a week into a fragile ceasefire aimed at stopping the bloodshed in Syria’s five-year civil war, as Russia accused what it termed “moderate rebels” of causing the truce to fail.