Russian aircraft on June 16 targeted US-backed Syrian rebels, resulting in injuries and deaths of fighters trained by Americans. A “small number” of Syrian fighters were killed after the strike near al-Tanf, Reuters reported. The US used its “line of communication” with Russia to express its concerns and determined what happened in the strike, which if it did target a group fighting ISIS, is the opposite of what Russia said it was deploying to Syria to do, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Friday. If the strike was not intentional, it “says something about the quality of information of which they use to make airstrikes,” Carter said. The US and Russia speak regularly on phone calls, and in this case the line “wasn’t professionally used,” he said. “We’re trying to clarify the facts, and use that channel with the Russians to understand” what happened, he said.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.