- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Pentagon said concerns were raised Saturday with counterparts in Moscow after a Russian aircraft was accused of conducting a strike in Syria this week against U.S.-backed opposition fighters.

In a statement, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said an “extraordinary session” was convened earlier Saturday via video link in order to discuss airstrikes reportedly launched by Russian forces Thursday in the town of Al-Tanf near Syria’s borders with Iraq and Jordan.

Those assaults, the spokesman said, struck opposition forces who were conducting a campaign in the region against Islamic State terrorists.

“Department officials expressed strong concerns about the attack on the coalition-supported counter-ISIL forces at the At-Tanf garrison, which included forces that are participants in the cessation of hostilities in Syria, and emphasized that those concerns would be addressed through ongoing diplomatic discussions on the cessation of hostilities,” said the spokesman, using an alternate name for the terror group.

“Regarding safety, department officials conveyed that Russia’s continued strikes at At-Tanf, even after U.S. attempts to inform Russian forces through proper channels of on-going coalition air support to the counter-ISIL forces, created safety concerns for U.S. and coalition forces.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday that at least two casualties had occurred as a result of Thursday’s airstrike. Images supplied by the group, which has attempted to monitor the ongoing Syrian civil war since it began in 2011, indicated that munitions typically used by the Russian airforce was used in the attack.

“This was an attack on forces fighting ISIL and that is problematic,” U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Friday, Fox News reported.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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