The Syrian government said Monday that U.S. airstrikes had killed three Syrian military personnel in the eastern Deir Ezzor province.
This article has been updated, 2:04 PM.
WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – The U.S. rejected a claim by the Syrian government Monday that U.S. airstrikes on Sunday killed three Syrian military personnel in the eastern Deir Ezzor province.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry the alleged act one of “aggression” and said that it hinders the government’s efforts to fight terrorism.
A spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq and Syria, which does not coordinate with the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad, denied any targeting of Syrian forces.
Army Col. Steve Warren told CBS News that the coalition did carry out four strikes against Deir Ezzor province, which is largely held by the Islamic State (IS), but targeted oil infrastructure. Warren said that Operation Inherent Resolve had “no indication any Syrian soldiers were near our strikes.”
“The closest target we struck that day was a target 55 km [34 miles] away,” Warren told Fox News.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Monday that the strikes were all against oil wellheads, not vehicles or personnel targets. Davis said the U.S. military “does not have any reason” to target government forces, reiterating that the U.S. is in Syria combating IS even while wanting Assad to leave power.
In a letter of protest sent to the U.N. Security Council on Monday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said that in addition to the three killed, 13 were injured, Syria’s SANA news agency reported.
“Syria strongly condemns this blatant aggression which uncompromisingly contradicts the goals and aims of the United Nations,” the statement said, according to CBS. It called on the Security Council to “immediately intervene to take necessary measures in order to prevent any other recurrence.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based monitoring group that relies on a network of sources on the ground in Syria, reported that both “suspected US-led coalition warplanes” and “regime warplanes” carried out strikes in the region.
When prompted by a reporter, Davis said he did not know who the strikes could have come from, including that the Russians were active in the skies over Syria yesterday.
If the U.S. did hit the Syrian government forces it would be the first time such has happened since it entered the nation in August 2014 to combat the IS militant group.
While IS is an enemy to both the Syrian government and the U.S., and the two do not work together. The U.S. leads a 65-member coalition in the battle and Syria is partnered with both Russia and Iran.