US-led coalition air strikes reportedly killed dozens of Syrian soldiers on Saturday, endangering a US-Russian brokered ceasefire and prompting an emergency UN Security Council meeting as tensions between Moscow and Washington escalated
Russia has accused the US of bombing Syrian army positions and warned the incident puts a “very big question mark” over the future of a precarious ceasefire agreed by Washington and Moscow.
But the US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, described Russia’s call for an emergency closed-door security council meeting over the incident a “stunt” that was “uniquely cynical and hypocritical”
The Russian envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, declared that in his decades as a diplomat he had “never seen such an extraordinary display of American heavy-handedness as we are witnessing today” after the meeting went ahead.
He said that if Power’s actions were any indication of Washington’s possible reaction then the cease-fire agreement is “in serious trouble” but expressed hope the US would convince Moscow it was serious about finding a political solution in Syria and fighting terrorism.
Churkin said the timing of the US airstrike was “frankly suspicious” as it came two days before the US and Russia were supposed under the ceasefire agreement to begin joint planning for air operations against Isis and the former Nusra front, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, deemed to be terrorist groups by both states.