- Thomson Reuters
A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman says 62 Syrian soldiers have been reported killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike on a military base.
The US Central Command released a statement confirming the incident on Saturday.
Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov says the airstrike on Saturday took place near the Deir el-Zour airport in eastern Syria and was carried out by two F-16s and two A-10s. He did not identify the planes’ country affiliation, but said they were part of the international coalition.
Konashenkov says Syrian authorities told the Russians that 62 soldiers were killed and more than 100 wounded. He says the planes came from the direction of the border with Iraq.
Russia is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and has been carrying out airstrikes on behalf of his forces since last year.
Russia and the United States brokered a cease-fire in Syria that took effect on Monday and has largely held despite dozens of alleged violations.
Here’s the full statement from CENTCOM:
Earlier today Coalition aircraft conducted an airstrike south of Dayr Az Zawr, Syria. 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 officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military.
The location of the strike is in an area the coalition has struck in the past, and coalition members in the Combined Air Operations Center had earlier informed Russian counterparts of the upcoming strike. It is not uncommon for the Coalition Air Operations Center to confer with Russian officials as a professional courtesy and to deconflict Coalition and Russian aircraft, although such contact is not required by the current U.S. – Russia Memorandum of Understanding on safety of flight.
Syria is a complex situation with various military forces and militias in close proximity, but coalition forces would not intentionally strike a known Syrian military unit, officials said. The coalition will review this strike and the circumstances surrounding it to see if any lessons can be learned.