As US President Donald Trump warns he wants the US military to stay in Iraq to “watch Iran,” news has emerged of a 2017 mishap in which US forces in Syria nearly caused an international incident by calling an airstrike on a port-a-potty used by Iran-aligned forces. The episode highlights the dangers of two hostile forces in close proximity.
On Monday, Foreign Policy published a story on the incident, warning about “mission creep,” a military buzzword for undefined objectives that leave the door open for greater military involvement in a conflict, and how it risks a major confrontation between US and Iranian forces in the Middle East.
The episode happened in May 2017 near the US outpost at at-Tanf, a base on the Syrian border with Iraq that sits astride a major road between the two countries. As Foreign Policy tells it, citing a US defense official who requested anonymity, fighting near the base had soldiers there on edge, and when a convoy that US officials believed to be composed of Iran-aligned, pro-Damascus forces approached the base, airstrikes were called on the group.
However, US Air Force officials at the Combined Air Operations Center in Qatar quickly realized what their target was and refused to attack it, the publication noted.
In their nervousness, the US forces at at-Tanf had requested an air strike on a pickup truck carrying a port-a-potty, which US Air Forces Central Command did…