US-led coalition jets have bombed Syrian government forces’ positions near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, “paving the way” for Islamic State militants, the Syrian Army General Command told the state television.
According to Syria’s official SANA news agency, the bombing took place on al-Tharda Mountain in the region of Deir ez-Zor and caused casualties and destruction on the ground.
Sixty-two Syrian soldiers were killed and over 100 injured in the airstrike by the US-led coalition, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said, citing information received from the Syrian General Command.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that the aircraft which carried out the bombings had entered Syrian airspace from the territory of Iraq. The airstrike against Syrian positions was performed by two F-16 jet fighters and two A-10 support aircraft, it said.
Even if the bombardment of the Syrian government troops was a mistake, it’s still a consequence of Washington’s unwillingness to coordinate its anti-terror efforts with Moscow, the ministry said.
The Defense Ministry also confirmed a report by SANA that an Islamic State offensive began right after Syrian Army positions were hit from the air.
“After the airstrikes, the terrorists started attacking army positions. It looked like air support. Heavy fighting is now ongoing.”
The actions of the coalition “clearly paved the way for Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists to attack the position and take control of it,” the agency said citing the General Command of the Army and Armed Forces.
The General Command has called the bombing a “serious and blatant aggression” against Syrian forces, and said it was “conclusive evidence” that the US and its allies support IS militants.
Earlier on Saturday, Russia accused the US of being reluctant to take measures to force rebels under its control to fall in line with the terms of the Syrian ceasefire.
Numerous Russian appeals to the American side remain unanswered, which “raises doubts over the US’s ability to influence opposition groups under their control and their willingness to further ensure the implementation of the Geneva agreements,” senior Russian General Staff official, Viktor Poznikhir, said.
Poznikhir also said that the truce is being used by the militants to regroup, resupply and prepare an offensive against government troops.
Oh well, at least, with this blatant and illegal act of war against the Syrian state, the mask of pretending to be interested in Syria only to save it from terrorism is now well and truly off.
While US jets are coming from Iraq to provide air support for ISIS, Israel continues providing air support for al-Nusra (al Qaeda) in southwestern Syria.
They hate us for our freedoms, remember?
Update 1: Reuters broke the story by citing Western mouthpiece the ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ – which claimed that “Russian jets had been bombing in the same area at the same time”.
So far it seems that the US has not acknowledged the strike against the Syrian Arab Army. From Sputnik:
The US-led coalition on Saturday said it carried out an airstrike against Daesh terrorist group near the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor. “Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike damaged five ISIL [Daesh] supply routes,” Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said in a press statement published on the US Department of Defense website.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday that coalition planes carried out four attacks on the Syrian government forces near the city, killing 62 servicemen and injuring about 100.
The Operation Inherent Resolve press office declined to comment the issue, referring the question to the US Central Command.
Looks like the US is doing what it always does after committing naked aggression: It plays dumb, obfuscates, minimizes and refers questions to other sections of the Empire.
Update 2: US Central command now admits that it ‘by mistake’ hit the Syrian army.
The United States Central Command released a statement admitting that they hit Syrian Army positions, but claim that they did not intent to target Syrian servicemen in violation of the ceasefire agreement, but were instead targeting Daesh terrorists.
US military officials acknowledge responsibility for the bombing attack against Syrian Army positions that paved the way for a major Daesh offensive against Assad government forces and that killed 80 Syrian service personnel, but claimed that the attack was an accident with the intended target being Daesh terrorists.
In the statement, Central Command says 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.”
The statement, provided in full below, goes on to imply that Russia is somehow to blame for the egregious accident that killed the 80 Syrian soldiers because the US claims that it “had earlier informed Russian counterparts of the upcoming strike.”
Update 3: Moon of Alabama provides some more background details:
Earlier today the Syrian Arab Army had announced that 1,000 fresh soldiers arrived in Deir Ezzor to liberate it from ISIS.
The U.S. planes came from Erbil in the Kurdish separatist region of Iraq.
The Syrian troops were holding positions on Jabal Tharda, a mountain that overlooks Deir Ezzor’s airport. The mountain is now fully under Islamic State control. With this IS has firecontrol over the airport and the Deir Ezzor garrison as well as more than 150,000 civilians living under government protection are thereby cut off from supplies and any further reinforcements. Government forces have launched a counterattack to regain the vital position.
At the same time the Israeli air force attacked Syrian positions in the Golan height after al-Qaeda lobbed a mortar towards Israeli forces signaling the need for support. This has become the official format of Israeli support for al-Qaeda in the area with Israel claiming that the Syrian army is responsible for any and all attacks from the Syrian side no matter who initiates them.
Intense attacks from inside the surrounded, al-Qaeda occupied east-Aleppo on Syrian government positions were launched in the late afternoon local time. Fighting there is ongoing.
Earlier today artillery fire from Turkey hit Syrian army positions in Latakia.
The U.S. air attack on Deir Ezzor was certainly not a mistake but well planned.
It is a signal to Russia and Syria. I am not sure though what lunacy it is supposed to convey.
After the Daesh offensive enabled by American air support, the Syrian army has regained control over the positions lost to Daesh in the assault, including the military airport in Deir ez-Zor.
Update 4: Opinions are now coming in. Samir Aita, a member of the Syrian Democratic Forum opposition party, told Sputnik the attack should encourage the U.S. and Russia to enhance their collaboration on the negotiations/diplomatic front:
“Deir ez-Zor is a major element in the fight against Daesh. This ‘error’ bombing of forces courageously fighting against the terrorists could blow the common international efforts which gained momentum against Daesh. It blows the hope to see it soon being eliminated.”
A member of the Saudi-backed HNC, Yahya al-Aridi, told Sputnik:
“It [Daesh] could utilize this particular strike in order to do something, taking advantage of that to improve its position. … If there is real coordination on targeting Daesh and targeting terrorism sources, such things would not have happened. Why don’t they expose the details of the agreement? And why not making it public? Everybody is perplexed about these things.”
Update 5: Russia has convened an emergency UN Security Council meeting after the Americans’ “accidental” act of war on the Syrian government, demanding a full and detailed explanation from Washington over its blatant aggression and denying that the Americans had informed the Russians of the airstrike (contra CENTCOM’s statement).
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has told Ria Novosti that the Kremlin would demand an explanation at the UN this week.
“We are reaching a really terrifying conclusion for the whole world: that the White House is defending Islamic State. Now there can be no doubts about that. We demand a full and detailed explanation from Washington. That explanation must be given at the UN Security Council.”
This appears to be what the Russians have been seeking this whole time: public exposure of US support for ‘Islamic terrorists’ – and thus its entire modus operandi in the Middle East and elsewhere – at the highest court in the land.
Update 6: Additional details about the American attack. The attack lasted 50 minutes, involved 4 planes and a drone:
Today, at 17:00, two US Air Force F-16 planes, two A-10 planes and an unmanned combat aerial vehicle carried out airstrikes on key Syrian army defense positions around six kilometers [3.7 miles] south of the Deir ez-Zor airport,” reconciliation center head Vladimir Savchenko said.
The Russian operation commander contacted the Combined Joint Operations Center in Qatar after being notified by the Syrian side about the attack, he added, noting that the strikes then ended at 17:50. “After the strikes, Islamic States fighters started an offensive in the area. Heavy fighting continues. From 19:00, Russian Aerospace Forces planes are supporting Syrian army units by striking IS targets. A total of 10 strikes have been carried,” he said.
Hmeimim group of internal Syrian opposition member Tarek Ahmad:
I have no doubts that the United States planned for this strike, it is a provocation. They want to test Russia and to put Moscow in a difficult situation to test its response, to see if the Russians would go and help the Syrian army in this situation. It was clear to everyone that the Syrian army was fighting against IS in Deir ez-Zor, not rebels.
Coalition strike on the governmental Syrian forces is an attempt to prevent the Syrian Army from advancing and taking control over Iraqi-Syrian border. … The idea is to cut off Syria from Iraq and to create a buffer zone
Mais Krydee, another Hmeimim member: “Russia is always on the side of people in Syria. So we expect hard and tough steps and answer to these strikes from Russia. It must be a tough response. We need to make a ceasefire and to make it successful.”
Update 7: The Obama administration released a statement offering a formal apology for the “unintentional loss of life”. These people really cannot get any sicker. And a U.S. Defense official said that the strike “appears to be an intelligence failure.” Geeze, let us count the ways…