Australia regrets Syrian air strike role

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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has expressed regret for the loss of life in a US-led airstrike which killed dozens of Syrian soldiers fighting the so-called Islamic State.

Mr Turnbull has confirmed that Australian warplanes were involved in Sunday’s mistaken attack.

Russia called an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the strike.

The US has also expressed “regret” for the “unintentional loss of life”.
It has said the attack was “halted immediately when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military”.

Russia says the attack killed at least 62 Syrian troops fighting Islamic State and wounded 100 more.

The attack caused a bitter row between the US and Russia at the United Nations Security Council.

A lot of politics’ involved

Speaking in New York, Mr Turnbull expressed “regret” for the deaths, confirming that “Australian aircraft were involved in the sortie that’s been the subject of the recent news reporting”.

“I can say that as soon as the coalition commanders were advised by the Russian command in the region that Syrian forces had been affected, that sortie was discontinued.”

But he said there was “obviously a lot of politics” behind Russia’s complaint at the UN, citing “contradictions” with its own actions in Syria, including the reported bombing of hospitals.

US envoy Samantha Power has accused Russia of “pulling a stunt” by calling an emergency meeting of the Security Council.

Her Russian counterpart Vitaliy Churkin said he had never seen “such an extraordinary display of American heavy-handedness”.

A ceasefire deal agreed by the US and Russia went into effect in Syria last Monday, but important terms of the deal, such as the safe passage of aid, have still not been fulfilled.

The cessation of hostilities does not include attacks by the US on IS or other jihadist groups.

Russian has said the ceasefire is now in danger of collapse, and that the US would be to blame.

 

Source: BBC