Anti-Islamic State alliance bombards Syrian army, Damascus, Russia say

Syria and Russia said Saturday that US-led coalition airstrikes against Syrian government positions in the east of the country caused deaths and allowed the Islamic State terrorist militia to advance in the area.

The airstrikes by anti-Islamic State coalition warplanes killed 62 Syrian servicemen and injured 100 others, state news agency TASS reports, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov said, according to state news agency TASS.

The Syrian army said the bombing left unspecified losses in life and damage in military hardware.

“This bombardment clearly set the scene for a terrorist attack by Daesh on the position and controlling it," the army said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

The bombardment occurred at 17 pm (1400 GMT) near a military airport in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, according to a Syrian army carried by the state news agency SANA.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, estimated that more than 80 Syrian soldiers were killed in the air raid.

The US military's Central Command in Tampa, Florida, said in an email to dpa it was aware of the reports about the airstrike and would provide further information when available.

The bombardment comes as a truce brokered by the US and Russia, which went into effect in Syria on Monday, appeared increasingly fragile. Government forces and rebels groups have traded accusations of truce violations, and aid groups are still waiting for delivering humanitarian supplies to besieged areas inside Syria. Syria's Foreign Ministry denied Saturday that government of President Bashar al-Assad was blocking aid access to the divided city of Aleppo.

"The government of the Arab Republic of Syria confirms it has done all what was required from it to facilitate the arrival of humanitarian aid convoy to western Aleppo," an unidentified source at the Foreign Ministry said without elaborating.

"Gunmen still fire at the road where aid convoys will move," the source added, according to SANA.

Aleppo, Syria's pre-war commercial hub, has been divided between al-Assad's forces in the west and rebels to the east since fighting erupted for the control of the city in mid-2012.

Earlier Saturday, a UN humanitarian group expressed frustration that it has so far been unable to deliver aid to Aleppo amid fears that the US-Russian truce is about to collapse.

"As of Saturday morning, there has been no [delivery] progress," said David Swanson, an official at the UN's regional humanitarian affairs office for the Syria crisis.

Dozens of trucks with UN relief supplies remain stuck on the Turkish border.

UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has put most of blame for the delay on the Syrian government, which has not provided any so-called facilitation letters for the dozens of aid trucks to cross front lines.

Around 80,000 people will benefit from the aid targeting besieged opposition-controlled districts in eastern Aleppo, Swanson said.

Amid ongoing reports of ceasefire breaches, Russia accused the US of not doing their part to implement the agreements in Syria's ceasefire.

"If this continues all responsibility for the failing ceasefire in Syria will be with Washington," representative of the Russian General Staff Viktor Poznihir said, according to TASS.

"Following the fifth day of ceasefire, we state that only the Russian and Syrian sides observed fully their obligations," he told a media briefing.

Rami Abdel-Rahman, the Observatory head, expressed fears for the truce, which is the second this year to be brokered by Washington and Moscow. The first took effect in February but failed to hold.

"Since Thursday, [ceasefire] violations have increased and intensified," Abdel-Rahman told dpa. "I have fears that this will eventually lead to a total collapse of the fragile ceasefire."

The truce excludes Islamic State and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, a former al-Qaeda-linked group previously known as al-Nusra Front.

Last update: Sat, 17/09/2016 - 21:42

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