says it regrets the loss of lives resulting from airstrikes by US-led coalition jets on army positions near a military airport in Syria
Russia said Saturday that 62 Syrian forces were killed after “warplanes from the international anti-terrorist coalition carried out four airstrikes today against Syrian forces surrounded by the Daesh group in the Dayr al-Zawr air base.”
“Sixty-two Syrian soldiers were killed and a hundred others were injured in these strikes,” the Russia army said in a statement.
Two F-16 and two A-10 jets entered Syrian air space from Iraq and carried out the attacks, according to the statement.
“Coalition forces believed they were striking a Daesh fighting position,” the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement issued on Saturday night.
A US military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “If we did get this wrong, which it looks we did, it’s not something we intended to do.”
“It appears to be an intelligence failure,” the official added.
The official went on to say that US forces had been following what they believed were Daesh terrorists for “some days,” adding that the militants appeared to have a tank and a number of other vehicles.
In its statement, CENTCOM said “the coalition airstrike 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.”
However, before the strike was called off, US forces had already destroyed about six vehicles and the “personnel associated with them.”
Syrian men carrying babies make their way through the rubble of destroyed buildings following a reported airstrike in northern city of Aleppo, September 11, 2016. (AFP photo)
The US official said American aircraft would return to the area in the coming days to continue their airstrikes.
The Syrian General Command referred to the Saturday incident as a “serious and blatant aggression” against the Syrian army, adding that it was also “conclusive evidence” that the US-led coalition is supporting Daesh terrorists.
The incident came after Moscow and Washington agreed on a milestone deal on the Syrian crisis after some 13 hours of marathon talks in the Swiss city of Geneva on September 9. The truce went into effect at sunset on September 12.
The US-led coalition has done little to stop Daesh’s advances in Syria and Iraq. Some analysts have criticized the US-led military campaign, saying the strikes are only meant to benefit US weapons manufacturers.