Coalition raid kills 62 Syrian soldiers
US Ambassador Samantha Power expressed regret over the US-led coalition strike on a Syrian army post, but dismissed Russia’s call for an emergency Security Council meeting as a “stunt”.
Russia called the urgent meeting to demand an explanation from the United States after the bombing killed at least 62 soldiers in eastern Syria near the Islamic State group-controlled town of Deir Ezzor.
“We are investigating the incident,” Ms Power said.
“If we determine that we did indeed strike Syrian military personnel, that was not our intention. We regret the loss of life,” she added.
Ms Power described Russia’s request for the urgent meeting as a “stunt, replete with moralism and grandstanding”, saying Moscow should instead demand a meeting with the Assad regime to press for peace in Syria.
In an exchange reminiscent of Cold War-era verbal jousting, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin accused the US of violating agreements that it would not target Syrian positions and said the action was a “bad omen” for a US-Russian deal on halting the fighting in Syria.
Washington and Moscow reached an agreement this month that calls for a ceasefire, the delivery of aid and the joint targeting of Islamist rebels.
The ceasefire went into effect on September 12, but convoys of aid have yet to reach civilians besieged by Syrian forces in the city of Aleppo.
Asked if the air strike on the Syrian army would kill off the US-Russian deal, Mr Churkin said, “This is a very big question mark.”
“I do hope that they will find a way to convince us and everybody else that they are serious about political settlement in Syria, serious about fighting terrorists,” he said.
The Pentagon had admitted the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS) may have struck Syrian military positions.
“Coalition forces believed they were striking a Daesh fighting position,” Central Command, known as Centcom, said in a statement, using an alternate term for the IS group.
The situation in Syria is deteriorating, the Russian military said, adding that the US would be responsible if the fragile ceasefire in force collapses this week.
Russia said it was “very concerned” by the strikes that targeted the Syrian army, which has been consistently fighting the IS. –