Russian and Syrian militaries say a US-led coalition air strike on an army base has killed more than 60 Syrian troops.
At least 80 Syrian soldiers were killed in a US-led air strike at a Syrian army position at Jebel Tharda near Deir Al-Zour airport on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group said, citing a source at the airport..
The US-led coalition has admitted its planes carried out an attack in eastern Syria that the Russian army says killed at least 62 Syrian troops fighting IS.
A spokesman for the US administration expressed “regret” for the “unintentional loss of life”.
US Central Command said the strike was immediately halted “when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military”.
The attack caused a bitter row between the US and Russia at the United Nations Security Council.
Moscow called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the deadly air strikes. The 15-member body is due to meet behind closed doors at 7.30pm EDT (7.30am on Sunday, Singapore time), diplomats said.
Syria says the attack is proof the US is actually supporting the Islamic State while Moscow says it is evidence of Washington’s “stubborn refusal” to coordinate its actions with Russia’s government.
Syria‘s army general command said in a statement that the air strike was “conclusive evidence” of U.S. support for Islamic State, noting that the strike was “dangerous and blatant aggression”.
Islamic State said in a statement on its Amaq news channel that it had gained “complete control” over Jebel Tharda but both Syrian state television and Russian state media said the positions lost to the militant group were later recaptured.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group with contacts across the country, cited a military source at Deir al-Zor airport as saying that at least 80 Syrian soldiers had been killed in the strike.
“Syria is a complex situation with various military forces and militias in close proximity, but coalition forces would not intentionally strike a known Syrian military unit. The coalition will review this strike and the circumstances surrounding it to see if any lessons can be learned,” U.S. officials said.
Russia says coalition airstrike jeopardizes ceasefire in Syria
Russia’s foreign ministry said the strike jeopardized a fragile American-Russian brokered ceasefire in Syria.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said that if the coalition bombing was a mistake, it was evidence of Washington’s “stubborn refusal” to coordinate its actions with Russia’s government.
The defence ministry in Russia, which has been aiding Syria‘s President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war, said U.S. jets had killed more than 60 Syrian soldiers in four air strikes by two F-16s and two A-10s coming from the direction of Iraq.
UN Security Council meeting called after attack
The Syrian military said the damage caused by the strike has allowed the IS extremists to advance their position on to a hill overlooking the base.
Three tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles, four mortars and an anti-aircraft gun were destroyed, a Syrian military spokesman said according to Russia’s TASS news agency reported.
Following the strike, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting overnight at the request of the Kremlin.
The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, rebuked Russia for the move.
“Russia really needs to stop the cheap point scoring and the grandstanding and the stunts and focus on what matters, which is implementation of