BEIRUT Syria’s government mentioned the U.S.-led military coalition have carried out a deadly air strike on a Syrian army camp, but officials from the U.S-led alliance mentioned the report was false.
Syria mentioned 4 coalition jets killed three soldiers and wounded 13 in the eastern Deir al-Zor province on Sunday evening, calling it an act of aggression, the very first time it has created such an accusation.
Any such strike by U.S.-led coalition planes, which have been focusing their fire on Islamic State militants, would additional complicate an increasingly regional conflict now practically 5 years old.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported earlier that jets most likely to be from the coalition hit element of the Saeqa military camp close to the town of Ayyash in Deir al-Zor province, killing 4 Syrian army personnel.
But Brett McGurk, U.S. President Barack Obama’s envoy to the coalition, mentioned on his Twitter account: “Reports of coalition involvement are false.”
Colonel Steve Warren, a Baghdad-based spokesman for the U.S-led coalition, mentioned the alliance had conducted 4 strikes in the Deir al-Zor province on Sunday, all against oil nicely heads.
“Our strikes have been roughly 55 kilometers (35 miles)south east of Ayyash. We did not strike any vehicles or personnel targets. We have no indication any Syrian soldiers have been near our strikes,” he said.
A U.S. defense official, who declined to be named, dismissed the idea that the coalition would target the Syrian military.
“We are not at war with the Assad regime and have no cause to target the Syrian Army,” the official stated. “We are aware that Russia carried out long-range bomber strikes into Syria yesterday.”
Yet another U.S. defense official stated Deir al-Zor was amongst the places Russia had targeted on Sunday. Russian officials were not quickly accessible for comment.
The U.S.-led coalition first launched air strikes against Islamic State in Syria in September 2014, soon after beginning aerial operations against the group in neighbouring Iraq the earlier month.
Its strikes have regularly targeted Deir al-Zor province in eastern Syria, most of which is held by Islamic State, like oilfields that are a source of revenue for the group.
The province hyperlinks Islamic State’s de facto capital in Raqqa with territory controlled by the group in Iraq.
Britain joined the United States and its allies last week in the bombing campaign against Islamic State in Syria, before proposed international peace talks later this month. Syria’s fragmented opposition are set to meet in Riyadh this week to try to unite ahead of the talks.
The Syrian foreign ministry stated jets fired nine missiles at the camp, state Tv reported.
The ministry sent letters to U.N. Secretary Basic and to the head of the U.N. Safety Council condemning the “flagrant aggression,” state news agency SANA stated.
It urged the United Nations to take “instant action and take the needed measures to prevent a repeat” of the incident.
The foreign ministry stated 3 armoured autos, four military vehicles and a weapons cache and ammunition had also been destroyed.
The strikes “confirm once once again that the American coalition lacks the seriousness and trust (needed) to fight terrorism in an powerful way,” it said.
The Syrian government has only a limited presence in Deir al-Zor province, which is mainly controlled by Islamic State.
Syria’s ally Russia is waging its personal air campaign in assistance of President Bashar al-Assad, and has also been striking in Deir al-Zor.
Russia’s air raids have hit some Islamic State targets, but the United States and its allies say most of them have hit other foreign-backed rebel groups.
In Deir al-Zor city, an additional air strike overnight killed a woman and two of her young children, the Observatory stated.
(Further reporting Tom Perry and Mariam Karouny in Beirut, and Phil Stewart and Jonathan Landay in Washington Editing by Nick Macfie and Tom Heneghan)