An emergency UN Security Council meeting was called after US-led coalition air strikes reportedly killed dozens of Syrian soldiers on Saturday, endangering a US-Russian brokered ceasefire.
As tensions escalated between Moscow and Washington, the United States military said the coalition ended the attacks, which incidentally were being carried out against what it had believed to be Islamic State positions in northeast Syria, after Russia informed that Syrian military personnel and vehicles may have been hit. US expressed its “regret” for “unintentional loss of life of Syrian forces in the strike” through the Russian government in an emailed statement.
The 15-member Security Council met on Saturday night after Russia demanded an emergency session to discuss the incident and accused the United States of jeopardizing the Syria deal. Chastising Russia for the move, US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power said, “Russia really needs to stop the cheap point scoring and the grandstanding and the stunts and focus on what matters, which is implementation of something we negotiated in good faith with them.”
She said the United States was investigating the air strikes 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.” When asked if the incident ended the Syria deal between Moscow and Washington, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said: “This is a very big question mark.”“I would be very interested to see how Washington is going to react. If what Ambassador Power has done today is any indication of their possible reaction then we are in serious trouble,” Churkin told reporters.
Moscow cited the strikes, which allowed Islamic State fighters to briefly overrun a Syrian army position near Deir al-Zor airport, as evidence that the United States was helping the jihadist militants.