Syria — United States officials have admitted in a statement issued by Central Command that coalition airstrikes resulted in the bombing of Syrian government forces who were fighting Islamic State terrorists in eastern Syria near the city of Deir ez-Zor.
In the statement, Central Command said that “Coalition forces believed they were striking a Da’esh fighting position that they had been tracking for a significant amount of time before the strike. The coalition airstrike was halted immediately when coalition forces were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military.”
According to the Syrian Army’s General Command, at least 80 Syrian soldiers were killed and more than 100 injured in the airstrikes by the US-led coalition.
The Central Command statement claims that the airstrikes were “in an area the coalition has struck in the past” and then claims that they had warned Russian officials but does not specify when the warning was given.
Russia called an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council following the airstrikes, which threatens last week’s fragile ceasefire agreement that would have led to cooperation between the US-led coalition and Russian defense officials to target the Islamic State.
During the meeting, Russia blasted the US and accused them of aiding ISIS.
“If previously we had suspicions that Al-Nusra Front is protected this way, now, after today’s airstrikes on the Syrian army we come to a really terrifying conclusion for the entire world: The White House is defending IS [Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL],” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Rossiya 24.
“We demand a full and detailed explanation from Washington. That explanation must be given at the UN Security Council,” Zakharova added.
SANA, the Syrian state television news agency, first reported early Saturday that fighter jets from the US-led coalition bombed the positions of Syrian government military forces near the airport in the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, a city which is still partially controlled by the Islamic State.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that the aircraft which carried out the bombings had entered Syrian airspace from the territory of Iraq. Russian officials noted that the four airstrikes against Syrian positions were executed by two F-16 jet fighters and two A-10 support aircraft.
According to SANA news agency, the bombing took place on al-Tharda Mountain outside the city of Deir ez-Zor. Deir ez-Zor is closer to the central area of the claimed Islamic State caliphate. This are has been a stronghold for the group which allowed them to maintain control of areas across the Iraq-Syria border.
The terrorist regime is likely jumping for joy now that the United States just helped them destroy their enemy — the Syrian military.
Deir ez-Zor is currently one of two major strategic cities the Syrian government forces have been trying to regain control of its campaign against the Islamic State and other Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups, while the US claims it is targeting “moderate” rebel groups. The other strategic city of Aleppo has recently been in focus again by the international media after the viral photo a young Syrian boy rescued from an airstrike. Government forces have regained control of significant areas of the country after almost one year of Russian intervention which officially began September 30, 2015 when Russia launched its first airstrikes.
Syria is more densely populated in the west and north, where government forces have been fighting the collection of American-backed rebels the United States calls the Free Syrian Army, which has been proven to be made of mostly Islamist jihadist militants. One day before the airstrikes, it was reported that a viral internet video showed Free Syrian Army fighters chasing away US special forces operators from a town while chanting violent threats.
In the year since Russian intervention began, Syrian forces have been able to secure control of the populated areas in the west while freeing towns in the central and east from the Islamic State. The central and eastern areas of Syria are desert and rural regions which allowed the Islamic State to control easier.
Some observers of the Syrian war will see the latest incident as a continuation of a pattern of targeting the Syrian government by allowing Islamic State to weaken the control of the military. The United States has been attempting to control the conflict and the terms of political transition away from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while supporting the Free Syrian Army. The US has also been supporting Kurdish fighters in Syria under the diplomatic term “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF), comprised mostly of Kurds supported by a mix of Islamist and Turkmen tribal fighters.
The SDF alliance has been used to fight Islamic State in northern Syria near Turkey. Also, earlier this year, the US was accused of using them to “race” to take over areas of central and east Syria in an attempt to gain leverage over the Assad government. In March 2016, US State Department Mark Toner declined to agree that it was better for the Syrian government to defeat the Islamic State in the strategic city of Palmyra. The SDF alliance was reportedly a few days away from being able to fully engage in the battle.
Toner made a similar statement in April when asked if there was concern that Syrian forces would liberate Raqqa before US-backed forces could have a chance to reach the city declared as the capital of the Islamic State.