War of words erupts between Russia, U.S. over air strikes in Aleppo, Syria

Special to WorldTribune.com

The U.S. and Russia have traded accusations over recent airstrikes in Aleppo, Syria.

After the U.S. said Russian warplanes destroyed two hospitals in the besieged city, Moscow responded by claiming U.S. warplanes bombed Aleppo on Feb. 10, an accusation the Pentagon said was a total “fabrication.”

A Syrian girl whose home was destroyed by Russian airstrikes on Aleppo watches as workers attempt to clear away the rubble to look for survivors. /Getty Images
A Syrian girl whose home was destroyed by Russian airstrikes in Aleppo watches as workers attempt to clear away the rubble to look for survivors. /Getty Images

“Just before 2 p.m. Moscow time (1100 GMT on Wednesday, Feb. 10), two U.S. Air Force A-10s flew into Syrian airspace from Turkish territory,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

The U.S. planes “conducted strikes against targets in the city,” Konashenkov claimed.

“There were no coalition airstrikes in or near Aleppo on Wednesday,” U.S.-led coalition spokesman Col. Steve Warren said. “Any claim that the coalition had aircraft in the area is a fabrication.”

U.S. military officials reported on Feb. 10 that Aleppo’s two main hospitals were destroyed by Russian and Syrian regime attacks this month and warned of an “increasingly dire” situation in the city.

Moscow on Feb. 11 said that its air force had hit 1,888 “terrorist targets” in eight regions including Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Homs provinces over the past week but said the closest bombing target to Aleppo on Feb. 10 was more than 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside the city.

The ministry also accusations that civilians had been targeted in the strikes. “Russian aviation and Syrian government forces will never launch strikes on the civilian population.”

Russia, which launched its bombing campaign in Syria last year at President Bashar Assad’s request, has long maintained that most air strikes target Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and other jihadist groups.

Many in the West, however, say that Moscow is targeting more moderate groups that oppose Assad’s regime.

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