Syria ceasefire on brink of collapse after air strikes hit
Aleppo Syrian army (excerpt)
AFP, Sep 18 2016
Tensions between Pindostan and Russia were escalating Sunday after a raid by the Pindosis killed dozens of Syrian soldiers the previous evening. A senior adviser to Assad said on Sunday that Damascus believes the strike was “intentional.” Bouthaina Shaaban told AFP:
None of the facts on the ground show that what happened was a mistake or a coincidence.
The SOHR (in Coventry) said at least 90 soldiers were killed in the strike on a strategic hill near Deir Ezzor. Moscow put the death toll at 62. The Syrian army has been fighting off a Daesh offensive around the key Deir Ezzor airbase since last year. Hours after the coalition strike, the Pentagon admitted Pindo pilots may have hit Assad’s forces, but lied:
(The pilots) believed they were striking a Daesh fighting position. (We) would not intentionally strike a known Syrian military unit.
Russia said it was “deeply concerned,” warning that Washington would have to reign in
rebels fighting Assad their air force,” otherwise, the realisation of Russia-Pindostan agreements could be put in danger.” It said:
The actions of the pilots if, as we hope, they were not taken on orders from Washington, fall between criminal negligence and direct pandering to Daesh terrorists.
An emergency UNSC meeting called by Moscow to discuss the attack ended early on Saturday after a testy exchange between ambassadors. Samantha Power said Moscow’s request for the meeting was a “stunt” while Vitaly Churkin accused Pindostan of violating agreements that it would not target army positions. Churkin called the strike a “bad omen.” Meanwhile, Abu Mohammed al-Golani, head of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the erstwhile Jabhat al-Nusra, told al-Jazeera late Saturday:
Neither we nor rebel groups will allow the siege of Aleppo to continue. Negotiations are underway for anti-regime groups to band together in a single organisation.
Such a merger would throw a major wrench in the Pindo-Russia deal, which foresaw cooperation between the two world powers against Jihadis, including Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Daesh, if the truce holds for a week.