Russia: US air strikes that killed Syria forces could threaten ceasefire agreement

Russia: US air strikes that killed Syria forces could threaten ceasefire agreement

According to Russian officials, a US-led airstrike which killed Syrian troops on Saturday could threaten the ceasefire agreed upon between Syrian and opposition forces. Russia said over 60 Syrian troops were killed [BBC report] as a result of the airstrike. US Central Command [official website] said they believed they were targeting ISIS positions, and stopped the operation as soon as Russia informed that the targets may be Syrian military. However, Russia and Syria have accused the US of planning the attack. On Saturday night, Russia ordered [CNBC report] an emergency session of the UN Security Council to discuss the airstrikes. The Syrian government and opposition groups began the ceasefire [JURIST report] Monday following negotiations by the US and Russia. The two countries planned to coordinate attacks on jihadist groups after seven days of the ceasefire. The US currently supports opposition forces, and Russia supports the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad [CNN profile].

The conflict in Syria [JURIST backgrounder] has continued for five years in a civil war surrounding the legitimacy of Assad. Last week a UN commission on Syria urged [JURIST report] parties in the Syrian conflict to return to the “negotiation table” after a new report highlighted an increase of violence suffered by civilians. In August a top UN official submitted a report detailing an in-depth investigation into chemical warfare [JURIST report] used by Islamic State and Assad in Syria. That same month Amnesty International said that a suspected chlorine gas attack in Aleppo could amount to a war crime [JURIST report]. In July Human Rights Watch reported [JURIST report] cluster bombs have been targeted at civilians and rebels in Northern Syria. In June UN human rights experts called for the immediate protection [JURIST report] of thousands of Syrian civilians.