The US-led coalition has admitted its planes carried out an attack in eastern Syria on Saturday 17 Sept, that the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 83 and said at least 120 soldiers who were fighting IS wounded.
The U.S. military’s Central Command said in a statement that the strike was in an area the coalition had attacked in the past, and that coalition members had informed their Russian counterparts before it began.
The statement said the strike was halted immediately when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said in a statement late Saturday that U.S. forces believed they were targeting an Islamic State site and halted the attack when informed by Russia that they had struck Syrian army personnel and vehicles. The U.S. is investigating the strikes, she said. “If we determine that we did indeed strike Syrian military personnel, that was not our intention, and we, of course, regret the loss of life,” said Ms. Power.
However, Ms. Power criticized Russia in unusually harsh terms, saying it had remained silent about Syrian government strikes on hospitals and other civilian targets over the years, including attacks using chemical weapons, only calling for an emergency Security Council meeting over a U.S. strike.
Vitaly Churkin, the Russian U.N. envoy, denounced Ms. Power’s lengthy statement as “demagoguery of the highest order.” According to WSJ.
Russia’s permanent UN representative, Vitaly Churkin, questioned the timing of the strikes, two days before Russian-American coordination in the fight against terror groups in Syria was to begin.
Russia’s defence ministry earlier said that if the US air strikes did turn out to be an error, it would be because of Washington’s refusal to co-ordinate military action with Moscow.
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