Syria accuses US-led coalition of killing regime troops

Syria accuses US-led coalition of killing regime troops

Syria expressed outrage today after a suspected US-led coalition strike for the first time killed regime troops, but the coalition denied its warplanes hit an army base.

In a letter to the United Nations Security Council and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Syria's foreign ministry condemned what it called a "flagrant aggression" that killed at least three soldiers late yesterday.

But a spokesman for the US-led coalition said its only strikes in the area yesterday were some 55 kilometres southeast of the Syrian army base.

"The Syrian Arab Republic strongly condemns this flagrant aggression by the US-led coalition forces, which blatantly violates the objectives of the UN charter," the foreign ministry said in the letter.

"The Syrian foreign ministry demands the UN Security Council act immediately in the face of this aggression and take appropriate measures to prevent its recurrence," the letter added.

It said three Syrian soldiers were killed and 13 wounded in strikes by four coalition planes on an army camp in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

A Syrian military source and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said four soldiers had been killed and 13 injured in the strike, near the town of Ayyash.

The military source told AFP on condition of anonymity that the attack happened last night and also damaged two tanks at the military base.

He said the strikes hit several buildings used as weapons depots and an army training camp.

The Observatory said it was the first time a US-led coalition strike had killed Syrian government troops.

"Regime forces have never previously been hit by raids from the international coalition, which was targeting jihadist bases and oil tankers in Deir Ezzor," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

Much of Deir Ezzor province is under the control of the Islamic State group, which is regularly targeted there by the US-led coalition, but the regime remains present in small areas, including in the provincial capital.

The coalition began air strikes in Syria in September 2014, expanding a campaign against IS that began in neighbouring Iraq.

A spokesman for the coalition denied that it was behind the alleged strikes, saying its warplanes carried out no raids in the area yesterday.

"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," Colonel Steve Warren told AFP.

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