The air strike that killed 62 Syrian soldiers outside the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor on Saturday was “inevitable given the stubborn refusal by the US to cooperate with Russia in combating ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other affiliated terrorist groups,” it states.
The air strikes against the Syrian Army’s positions were conducted by two F-16 fighter jets and two A-10 ground attack aircraft, the Russian Defense Ministry said earlier on Saturday. Syrian SANA news agency reported than an Islamic State offensive started shortly after Syrian Army positions were attacked from the air.
The US-led coalition air strikes on the Syrian Army positions near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor borders between “gross negligence” and “direct assistance” to ISIS militants, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“The coalition pilots’ actions – if they, as we hope, were not ordered by Washington – were on the edge between gross negligence and direct assistance to Islamic State terrorists,” the ministry’s statement said.
“Again, we call on Washington to put pressure on the US-controlled militants to ensure that they respect the ceasefire conditions. Otherwise, the entire set of Russia-US arrangements made in Geneva on September 9 might be endangered, which is contrary to the interests of the international community.”
The United States relayed its “regret” through the Russian government for what it described as the unintentional loss of life of Syrian forces in the strike, a senior Obama administration official said in an emailed statement.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in an emailed statement that Russian officials did not voice concerns earlier on Saturday when informed that coalition aircraft would be operating in the strike area.
The 15-member Security Council met on Saturday night after Russia demanded an emergency session to discuss the incident and accused the United States of jeopardizing the Syria deal.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, chastised Russia for the move.