The Obama administration sent its condolences to Syria for an air strike that inadvertently struck Syrian military forces, reported the Associated Press Monday.
The administration “relayed our regret” to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad through Russia, a senior administration official told the AP. Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, also expressed her regret for the attack, but noted that Russia’s attempt to call an emergency Security Council meeting was nothing more than a “stunt.” She pointed out that Russia never called a similar meeting to condemn Assad, a Russian ally, “for some of the most systematic atrocities we have seen in a generation.”
United States Central Command issued a press release Saturday confirming that U.S. and coalition forces ceased engaging in an air strike near the Syrian city of Dayr Az Zawr after they were informed by Russia that Syrian military forces were being targeted. CENTCOM noted that it had struck the area in the past, and that Russia was informed of the attack before it occurred. Russia and Syria have claimed 62 people were killed, while about 100 were injured.
The accidental strike comes at a precarious time for U.S.-Russian relations in the Middle East. Both sides agreed to a pseudo-ceasefire in Syria just over one week ago which sought a “genuine reduction of violence” for seven days beginning last Monday. All sides in the conflict have been accused of breaching the ceasefire since it began.
Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart attempted to hammer out a similar ceasefire agreement in February, which quickly fell apart after multiple violations on the part of Russia, Syria and various rebel groups.
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