Syria’s ceasefire was hanging by a thread on Sunday, after tensions escalated between Moscow and Washington over a US-led coalition air strike that killed dozens of Syrian soldiers battling jihadists. Government areas have been relying on airlifted aid.
The Russian Defence Ministry said on Saturday that USA jets had killed more than 60 Syrian soldiers in four air strikes by two F-16s and two A-10s coming from the direction of Iraq. Damascus ally Moscow put the death toll at 62.
Islamic State militants shot down a Syrian warplane on Sunday as Syrian forces regained ground lost to the extremists following a US -led airstrike that hit government forces the day before, state media said.
Russia’s defence ministry said more than 60 Syrian soldiers were killed and around 100 wounded in four strikes by two F-16s and two A-10s.
Retaking them is vital to prevent ISIS using them to fire on army aircraft taking off from or landing there.
Video footage published by Islamic State’s affiliated news agency Amaq showed a helicopter being shot and crashing to the ground against cries of “It’s fallen, God is greatest”.
The city’s military airport and some government-held districts have been entirely surrounded by Islamic State since a year ago, with the airport providing the only external access.
Russian forces entered the conflict at the end of past year, backing the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
At least 38 jihadist fighters were killed and clashes were ongoing, Abdel Rahman told AFP.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry called the US -led coalition airstrikes a “dangerous and blatant aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic and its army”.
It says its coalition planes halted strikes when informed of the Syrian presence.
The Syrian military said the airstrikes enabled an IS advance on a hill overlooking the air base.
Russia’s foreign ministry said the strike jeopardised a fragile American-Russian brokered ceasefire in Syria.
She said the United States was investigating the airstrike and “if we determine that we did indeed strike Syrian military personnel, that was not our intention and we of course regret the loss of life”.
Russian Federation on Friday said the Syrian army had initially withdrawn but returned to its positions after being fired on by rebels, who in turn say they saw no sign of government forces ever leaving their positions.
Power angrily denounced the Russian call for the United Nations meeting as a stunt.
And Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin accused the USA of violating agreements that it would not target Syrian army positions.
Russian Federation says the incident is evidence the U.S. has stubbornly refused to coordinate so far. Russia’s Foreign Ministry had similar words, according to spokeswoman Zakharova.
The truce agreement came into force September 12, with the Britain-based Observatory reporting a drop in violence across all major fronts in the country where ISIS was not present.
“The truce, as we have. told the (US) State Department, will not hold out”, the rebel official said, pointing to the continued presence of a United Nations aid convoy at the Turkish border awaiting permission to travel to Aleppo. The official also says the US will continue to pursue compliance with a cessation of hostilities as it continues military action against IS and an al-Qaeda-affiliated group in Syria.
In an interview broadcast by Al-Jazeera television, Abu Mohamed al-Jolani said negotiations were under way for anti-regime groups to band together in a single organisation.