A team of US Army soldiers mistakenly raided a factory in Bulgaria that manufactures equipment used in olive oil production during a NATO training exercise in the region, Fox confirmed News.
Ken McGraw, the public affairs office of the United States Special Operations Command, told Fox News on Tuesday that an initial report on the raid was incorrect.
“The unit that attacked the plant was the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which is stationed in Vicenza, Italy,” he said. “US special operations forces were not involved in this incident in any way.”
US soldiers assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade were conducting a simulation at Cheshnegirovo airfield in south-central Bulgaria, McGraw said. They moved from building to building to grab and secure each stop, and the team mistakenly believed that the factory was located in the airfield, not next to it.
Defense Brief first reported the incident, citing the US Embassy in Bulgaria.
During the May 11 exercise, Soldiers simulated entering and cleaning several bunkers and structures across the airfield, the U.S. Army’s Europe and Africa Command said in a communicated. The soldiers “entered and cleaned a building next to the airfield which they said was part of the training area, but which was occupied by Bulgarian civilians operating a private business”.
No weapons were fired at any time during this interaction, the military said.
“The US military takes training seriously and prioritizes the safety of our soldiers, allies and civilians,” the statement said. “We sincerely apologize to the company and its employees. We are still learning from these exercises and fully investigating the cause of this error. We will implement rigorous procedures to clearly define our areas of training and avoid this type of training. ‘incident in the future. ”
According to her Twitter account, Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, investigative reporter for Arms Watch, tweeted footage from security cameras allegedly showing the incident. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had over 1.2 million views. A group of seven soldiers are seen with their guns drawn walking across the property and into what appears to be a warehouse with at least one worker inside.
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Gaytandzhieva claimed that the owner of the factory has since filed a complaint.
The incident occurred during an exercise as part of Swift Response 21, an operation in Romania, Estonia and Bulgaria involving more than 7,000 paratroopers from 10 different countries as part of the larger Defender Europe series. 21.
Defender Europe 21 is an annual large-scale multinational joint exercise led by the U.S. military and designed to enhance readiness and interoperability between the U.S., NATO and partner militaries, according to its website.
This year’s exercise is NATO’s largest exercise on European soil in decades, Defense Brief reported. It integrates approximately 28,000 multinational forces from 26 countries to conduct near-simultaneous operations in more than 30 training areas in 12 countries.
According to the U.S. Army website, the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Sky Soldiers) is an emergency response force in Europe, providing rapid forces to U.S. areas of responsibility in Europe, Africa, and the Command central. Forward-based in Italy and Germany, the brigade trains regularly alongside NATO allies and partners to enhance interoperability and strengthen the Alliance.
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The U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the incident.
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