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RAF Reaper drones used in airstrike that killed Syrian troops, MoD says

RAF Reaper drones were involved in the weekend airstrike that killed at least 62 Syrian government troops and threatened the fragile truce in the country, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The British military is cooperating fully with an investigation by the US-led coalition into the incident, which led to dozens of soldiers being killed and injured, according to Syrian government reports.

Australian, Danish and US air forces were also involved in the raid.

An MoD spokesman said: "We can confirm that the UK participated in the recent coalition airstrike in Syria, south of Deir ez-Zour on Saturday, and we are fully cooperating with the coalition investigation.

"The UK would not intentionally target Syrian military units. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage."

Remote-controlled UK Reaper drones were involved in the strike.

The raid prompted a furious response from Russia and Syria, and led to allegations that the airstrikes on the Syrian soldiers could not have been mistaken.

Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, described the attack as "flagrant aggression".

The Russians called an emergency meeting of the UN security council to discuss the incident, a move describe by the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, as a stunt.

Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said: "It is highly suspicious that the US chose to conduct this particular airstrike at this time," adding that it did not look like an honest mistake.

The US military has not confirmed the strikes against the Syrian troops but has suggested it was carrying out a raid against Islamic State (Isis) fighters in eastern Syria.

Syria's weeklong ceasefire, brokered by the US and Russia, was in any case in growing doubt amid claims of repeated violations by both sides.

The Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, confirmed that his country's aircraft had been involved, but pulled out when Russian officials advised the targets may have been Syrian military personnel.

"We regret the loss of life and injury to any Syrian personnel affected," Turnbull told reporters in New York, where he will attend the annual United Nations genera assembly.

He said Australia's rules of engagement were to target Isis, but that the environment in Syria was very complex.

"You'll find over the next little while no doubt arguments or issues about why there wasn't more coordination or who was meant to be advising who," he said.

Turnbull said it remains to be seen whether the incident would jeopardise the Syrian ceasefire.

[Source: By Patrick Wintour, Diplomatic editor, The Guardian, 19Sep16]

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Syria War
small logoThis document has been published on 26Sep16 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.