Damascus has labelled as an “act of aggression” the US-led coalition’s missile strike which killed three Syrian soldiers at an army base in the Deir ez Zor province.
On top of the fatalities, 13 personnel were injured and a number of military vehicles were destroyed when warplanes fired nine missiles at the Saeqa military camp.
The incident is the first of its kind since the coalition started to bomb Syrian territory more than a year ago, though the US-led alliance continues to deny it carried out the airstrike.
“Syria strongly condemns the act of aggression by the US-led coalition that contradicts the UN Charter on goals and principles. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent letters to the UN Secretary General and the UN Security Council,” Syria's SANA news agency quoted the country's foreign ministry as saying.
Coalition spokesman Colonel Steve Warren has insisted, however, that the only airstrikes in the area were delivered some 55km away.
“We’ve seen those Syrian reports but we did not conduct any strikes in that part of Deir ez Zor yesterday. So we see no evidence,” he said.
A US military official speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters that Washington is certain that Russia is responsible for the airstrike.
The Deir ez Zor province is situated in eastern Syria, and is largely controlled by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). The region is of significant strategic importance to the terrorist group, as it contains a number of oilfields, which are a major source of revenue for IS.
The US-led coalition’s airstrikes in Syria are in fact illegal, as it has never received permission from Syrian President Bashar Assad to enter the country’s airspace. In response to the UK’s decision to join the bombing campaign in Syria, Assad reiterated in an interview with the Sunday Times that the presence of Britain in Syria is unlawful as neither Damascus nor the United Nations have given London the green light to bomb Syrian territory.
“It will be harmful and illegal and it will support terrorism, as happened after the coalition started its operation a year or so [ago], because this is like a cancer,” Assad said.
On Monday, Syria said its army camp was targeted by an airstrike from the US-led coalition. In response to the allegations, Washington deployed an all-too-familiar tactic: blame Russia.
On Sunday night, an airstrike in the eastern Syrian city of Deir el-Zour left three soldiers dead and another 13 wounded. In response, the Syrian government wrote a letter to the United Nations in which it squarely accused four coalition aircraft for the attack, and blamed the US for a blatant "act of aggression."
"This hampers efforts to combat terrorism and proves once again that this coalition lacks seriousness and credibility to effectively fight terrorism," the letter reads, according to the Associated Press.
The US has fervently denied the claim, insisting that coalition aircraft at the time were targeting oil wells 34 miles from the site of the army camp.
"We did not strike any vehicles or personnel targets in this area," a statement from the coalition reads. "We have no indication any Syrian soldiers were even near our strikes."
But denial wasn’t Washington’s only strategy for dealing with the allegations. The Pentagon has also begun blaming the airstrike on Russia.
The Russian Defense Ministry has not responded to those comments at this time.
Obviously there is no level too low for our current govt to stoop. (In the US)
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