US military officials are being investigated for a “mistake” that left them on the ground in Syria and a Russian air strike on a US air base has resulted in “significant damage” to American facilities there, according to a new report.
The findings come from an internal review commissioned by the Pentagon and released on Monday by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
It also calls for a comprehensive assessment of the events that led up to the December 22, 2017, airstrike on the American air base in Latakia.
The attack, which took place hours after a Russian SU-24 bomber flew over US territory and then crashed into the US facility, killed four American service members.
The committee’s report says the attack was “systematic and systematic” and “was an intentional attack.”
It adds that the Pentagon had previously been aware of the Russian attack, but was not fully informed about it until Monday.
“The incident was deliberately planned, executed, and conducted with knowledge of the Russians capabilities,” the report says.
“This included the use of multiple simultaneous, multi-mission air and ground operations.”
“This type of coordination between the Russians and the US would not have been possible without Russian military assistance.”
A senior US military official told ABC News on Tuesday that “all elements of the Department of Defense” were working with the Senate investigation into the Latakia attack, as well as with the Pentagon’s inspector general.
The report says that Russian warplanes had flown over the US airfield before the airstrike, but it did not indicate how long they had been in the air before it occurred.
The official said the strike took place in a highly complex and densely populated area, and it is not clear how the US military knew that a Russian fighter jet had come in.
“We believe that this was an intentional and planned attack,” the official said.
“We do not believe it was a routine or accidental operation.”
The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity, said that the US “had no way of knowing” that Russian planes were operating at the time.
The Russian Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The review also suggests that the Russian government may have used information gleaned from the strike on the US base to try to influence the outcome of the presidential election.
“There are a number of indications that the Russians may have engaged in a concerted effort to influence this outcome,” the Senate report says, adding that “the Russians were aware of this effort and may have encouraged others to engage in such activity.”
The Russian government has denied involvement in the airstrike.
The attack on the Latakian airbase, which is also home to the US Air Force Academy, “was the result of a coordinated Russian operation that included information from the Russians about the American military bases that they planned to use to conduct strikes against the United States,” the committee’s investigation said.
The Pentagon has repeatedly said that it did nothing wrong in the Latacian airfield attack, despite the fact that the military had already been warned that it was under attack.
The Latakia base was also the site of the 2016 chemical weapons attack on civilians in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, which the Pentagon blamed the Syrian government for.
The Senate report also said that a US aircraft “had to scramble” in response to the Russian airstrike.
“The USAF commander in the area ordered the flight of F-22s, which were flying low and in low visibility,” the investigation says.
“While in the process of firing on the Russian aircraft, the commander’s radar detection system picked up the presence of the aircraft.
That aircraft continued on its way.”
The US military said on Monday that it has “no reason to doubt the conclusions” of the Senate committee’s inquiry, which said that in the hours after the Russian air attack, Russian war planes flew over the base.
The US Defense Department has declined to comment on the Senate findings.