US says Russian strikes likely killed Syrian regime troops
Russian strikes likely killed Syrian regime troops in eastern Syria, an American official said Monday, despite widespread blame on the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group.
Syria accused the coalition in a letter to the UN Security Council of targeting an army camp in Deir Ezzor province on Sunday, killing three soldiers and wounding 13.
But a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that "the presumption is it was the Russians" who led the strikes.
"We do know that the Russians were active Sunday near Deir Ezzor," the official said.
Russia began launching ferocious air strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's foes on September 30.
The United States regularly accuses Russia of using less precise bombs than those employed by America.
The strikes were carried out by 12 TU-22M3 Backfire bombers from Russia's Mozdok military base in North Ossetia, another official said.
Coalition spokesman Colonel Steve Warren already reported the only strikes it carried out in the area on Sunday were on an oil wellhead some 35 miles (55 kilometers) southeast of the army base.
"We've seen those Syrian reports but we did not conduct any strikes in that part of Deir Ezzor yesterday. So we see no evidence," Warren told AFP.
The coalition has been bombarding the IS group for more than a year in Syria and neighboring Iraq, where the jihadists have declared a self-styled caliphate.
© 2015 AFP