US-led coalition aircraft strike Syrian army positions, kill 62 soldiers – military
US-led coalition jets have bombed Syrian government forces’ positions near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, killing 62 troops and “paving the way” for Islamic State militants, the Syrian Army General Command told the state television.
According to Syria’s official SANA news agency, the bombing took place on al-Tharda Mountain in the region of Deir ez-Zor and caused casualties and destruction on the ground.
Sixty-two Syrian soldiers were killed and over 100 injured in the airstrike by the US-led coalition, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said, citing information received from the Syrian General Command.
“We are aware of the reports and checking with Centcom and CJTF (Combined Joint Task Force),” the Pentagon told RT.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that the aircraft which carried out the bombings had entered Syrian airspace from the territory of Iraq.
Four strikes against Syrian positions was performed by two F-16 jet fighters and two A-10 support aircraft, it added.
“If the airstrike was caused by the wrong coordinates of targets than it’s a direct consequence of the stubborn unwillingness of the American side to coordinate with Russia in its actions against terrorist groups in Syria,” Konashenkov stressed.
The Defense Ministry also confirmed a report by SANA that an Islamic State offensive began right after Syrian Army positions were hit from the air.
“Immediately after the airstrike by coalition planes, Islamic State militants launched their offensive. Fierce fighting with the terrorists is currently underway in the area of the airport where for a long a time humanitarian aid for civilians was parachuted,” Konashenkov said.
The Syrian General Command has called the bombing a “serious and blatant aggression” against Syrian forces, and said it was “conclusive evidence” that the US and its allies support IS militants.
Earlier on Saturday, Russia accused the US of being reluctant to take measures to force rebels under its control to fall in line with the terms of the Syrian ceasefire.
Numerous Russian appeals to the American side remain unanswered, which “raises doubts over the US’s ability to influence opposition groups under their control and their willingness to further ensure the implementation of the Geneva agreements,” senior Russian General Staff official, Viktor Poznikhir, said.
Poznikhir also said that the truce is being used by the militants to regroup, resupply and prepare an offensive against government troops.
Last week, Moscow and Washington agreed to influence the Syrian government and the so-called moderate rebel forces respectively in order to establish a ceasefire in the country.
Since then, Russia has repeatedly complained that the US is failing to keep its part of the bargain. The US, on its part, has blamed Russia for not pressuring Damascus enough to facilitate humanitarian access to Syria.
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