The United Nations Security Council has convened at the behest of the Russians after dozens of Syrian soldiers were accidentally killed in a US coalition bombing raid.
It met within hours of the Obama administration expressing its regret at the strikes on Jabal Therdeh, southwest of the Deir Ezzor airport in eastern Syria.
According to Russian estimates 62 soldiers were killed in in the strikes, which the US said were aimed at the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said at least 83 soldiers lost their lives in the attacks.
The raid took place within days of an agreement between Russia and America to co-operate in Syria and co-ordinate their efforts against Isil, following talks between John Kerry, the US Secretary of State and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.
It was an agreement intended to broker a truce and bring relief to the stricken population, while limiting fighting to those areas under the control of Isil.
The co-operation of Russia, which is an ally of the Syrian government, is crucial for both the international campaign against Isil in one of its strongholds and bringing peace to the stricken country.
However the American apology failed to satisfy the Russians with their UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, accusing the US of breaking the commitments it had made earlier in the week.
“It is significant and frankly suspicious that the United States chose to conduct this air strike at this time,” he said.
“They did nothing when Isil advanced on Palmeira.”
However Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, dismissed the Russians’ decision to convene the Security Council as a stunt.
“We halted the attack when we were told by Russia that it was possible that we were striking some of the Syrian military personnel and vehicles.
“We are investigating the incident and if we determine that we did indeed strike Syrian personnel, that was not our intention and we of course regret the loss of life,” she said.
“That said, even by Russia’s standards, tonight’s stunt, a stunt replete with moralism and grandstanding is uniquely cynical and hypocritical.”
According to one report from Russia’s state-run Sputnik news agency, two F-16s and two A-10s carried out four strikes.
Even though the surrounding area is under the control of Isil, the Syrian army is in control of the the airport itself and parts of the city.
According to one Syrian military source the coalition strikes hit two hilltops near the airport.
“Then, there was machine gun fire on the wounded soldiers and the paramedics from the planes,” he said.
US Central Command (Centcom) said it believed it was striking an Isil fighting position, adding that it halted the attacks as soon as it was told by the Russians that it may have been targeting the Syrian military.
“The location of the strike is in an area the coalition has struck in the past, and coalition members in the Combined Air Operations Centre had earlier informed Russian counterparts of the upcoming strike.
“Syria is a complex situation with various military forces and militias in close proximity, but coalition forces would not intentionally strike a known Syrian military unit,” Centcom added.
The Syrian army general command said the air strike was “conclusive evidence” of US support for Isil.
– Telegraph uk