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US Denies Syrian Accusation Airstrikes Hit Government Forces


Image posted online Dec. 6, 2015, by supporters of Islamic State militant group on anonymous photo sharing website, shows Syrians inspecting damaged building in aftermath of airstrike that targeted areas in Raqqa, Syria.

The U.S.-led coalition is denying a Syrian government accusation that coalition warplanes bombed a government building in Deir Ezzor province, killing three soldiers and wounding 13.

Syrian government television called the alleged airstrike on a military position Sunday “an outrageous aggression.”

The report added that the Foreign Ministry sent an official letter of protest to the United Nations and to the current president of the Security Council.

Reports in Arab media

Arab media reported that four coalition planes bombed the position facing the Islamic State-controlled town of Ayash and that nine missiles hit the area. Government armored vehicles were also reportedly destroyed.

U.S.-led coalition spokesman Col. Steven Warren, however, insisted from his headquarters in Baghdad Monday that coalition forces were not responsible. He said that coalition warplanes only targeted an area 55 kilometers north of the government position.

Dubai-based Middle East analyst Theodore Karasik tells VOA that coalition airstrikes “are carefully crafted to avoid collateral damage,” and the claims and counter-claims underline “the complicated situation on the ground.” He says the “mix of armed forces and various groups, including extremists, makes Operation Inherent Resolve targeting difficult.”

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks during an interview with Venezuela's state-run Telesur network, in Damascus, Syria, 25 Sept. 2015.
Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks during an interview with Venezuela's state-run Telesur network, in Damascus, Syria, 25 Sept. 2015.

Assad slams Britain

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in an interview with Britain's The Sunday Times, lashed out at Britain’s decision to participate in coalition airstrikes. “You cannot,” he said, “defeat (ISIS) through airstrikes alone.....without cooperation from forces on the ground.”

Abdel Qader Azouz, who teaches political science at the University of Damascus, told state TV that Western airstrikes against Islamic State were making the situation worse.

He said that only a comprehensive global and regional strategy will work against Islamic State terrorism. He says that what he calls haphazard Western airstrikes against IS will merely push it to regroup and spread elsewhere.

Deir Ezzor is located in eastern Syria between Islamic State's de facto capital in Raqqa and the territory it controls in northern Iraq.

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