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Deir al-Zour

The US-led coalition has admitted its airstrikes in eastern Syria killed at least 62 Syrian troops fighting ISIS.

Russia and Syria said the strikes prove the United States and its allies are sympathetic to ISIS.

According to the Russian military, 62 Syrian soldiers were killed near Deir Ezzor Airport. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 83 and said at least 120 soldiers were wounded.

The strike occurred September 17 in an eastern part of Syria that is not a part of a delicate and nearly week-old ceasefire. The US military said it was targeting ISIS militants and if it hit Syrian troops, it was an accident.

Hours after US-led coalition airstrikes, the US and Russian ambassadors to the United Nations chastised each other outside an emergency Security Council meeting.

The US said its planes had halted the attack in Deir al-Zour when informed of the Syrian presence.

Bashar al-Assad has raised the possibility of Germany acting as a mediator to try to end Syria's 30-month-long civil war

A spokesman for the US administration expressed “regret” for the “unintentional loss of life”.

The attack caused a bitter row between the US and Russia at the United Nations Security Council.

US envoy Samantha Power accused Russia of “pulling a stunt” by calling an emergency meeting of the council.

Samantha Power’s opposite number, Vitaliy Churkin, said he had never seen “such an extraordinary display of American heavy-handedness” as shown by Power.

The Russians earlier said the current ceasefire in Syria was in danger of collapse and the US would be to blame.

The cessation of hostilities does not include attacks by the US on ISIS or other jihadist groups.

The US Central Command statement said the coalition believed it was attacking positions of so-called Islamic State and the raids were “halted immediately when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military”.

It said the “Combined Air Operations Center had earlier informed Russian counterparts of the upcoming strike”.

It added: “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. The coalition will review this strike and the circumstances surrounding it to see if any lessons can be learned.”

Russia’s defense ministry earlier said that if the US air strikes did turn out to be an error, it would be because of Washington’s refusal to co-ordinate military action with Moscow.

Only if the current ceasefire – which began on September 12 – holds for seven days, will the US and Russia begin co-ordinated action against the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham group, which was previously known as the al-Nusra Front, and ISIS.

The Russian defense ministry quoted a statement by Syrian army general command as saying that the four coalition air strikes on Syrian troops had allowed ISIS to advance.

The Russian foreign ministry said the attack had jeopardized the US-Russia agreement on Syria.

The Syrian statement said that the air strikes were “conclusive evidence” that the US and its allies supported the jihadist group.

There have been no confirmed cases of US air strikes targeting Syrian troops.

ISIS has briefly overrun a hospital complex in the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zour, reports say.

Activists say about 35 pro-government fighters were killed and some medical staff taken hostage. More than 20 ISIS fighters were also reported killed.

The attack was centered on al-Assad hospital, to the west of the city.

Syrian government forces retook the hospital after several hours, reports say, but the fate of the hostages is unclear.ISIS Deir al Zour

ISIS controls more than of half of Deir al-Zour and is seeking to capture the entire city.

The jihadist group has been besieging government-held areas there for two years, trapping about 200,000 civilians.

ISIS’s Amaq news agency said its fighters had carried out a “major offensive” in Deir al-Zour on May 14, storming the hospital and cutting the route between a Syrian army base and the city’s airport.

Amaq said it had also taken over a fire station, university accommodation, grain silos and territory near the al-Tayyam oil fields.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, government forces retook the hospital after several hours of fierce fighting.

Deir al-Zour is in an oil-rich area and on a vital supply route to the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.

US-led airstrikes have destroyed four ISIS-held oil tanks and damaged another during a fourth night of bombardments in Syria.

The Pentagon said it also carried out seven strikes on ISIS positions in Iraq, including one on the outskirts of the capital, Baghdad.

The Danish government says it is sending seven F-16 fighter jets to join anti-IS operations – but only in Iraq.

The UK parliament is due to vote on possible air strikes in Iraq on September 26.

The Islamic State is meanwhile advancing on the Syrian border town of Kobane, pushing back Kurdish fighters, reports the Reuters news agency.

Hundreds of protesters stormed the border fence in order to cross into Syria from Turkey to help defend the town, it says.

ISIS controls much of north-eastern Syria and earlier this year seized swathes of territory in neighboring Iraq, including the second city, Mosul.

US-led airstrikes have destroyed four ISIS-held oil tanks and damaged another during a fourth night of bombardments in Syria

US-led airstrikes have destroyed four ISIS-held oil tanks and damaged another during a fourth night of bombardments in Syria (photo EPA)

After previous US-led air strikes, ISIS militants beheaded three Western hostages.

Some Western leaders are wary of bombing Syria, as the government there has not asked for foreign assistance against ISIS, unlike Iraq.

The tanks were destroyed in the oil-rich Deir al-Zour province, the US Department of Defense said in a statement.

It also said strikes in Iraq had destroyed nine ISIS vehicles and damaged others.

The strikes were carried out by “a mix of fighter, attack and remotely piloted aircraft”.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria, said the new strikes caused casualties but the numbers were unclear.

Recent air strikes have been targeting oil facilities under ISIS control in both countries in order to reduce its finances.

The ISIS group is earning an estimated $2 million a day from oil sales.

Earlier, Spain’s interior ministry said Spanish and Moroccan police had arrested nine people suspected of belonging to a militant cell linked to the IS group.

A statement from the ministry said the suspects belonged to a group based in the Spanish enclave of Melilla, on the northern coast of Africa, and the neighboring town of Nador, in Morocco.

One of those arrested is reported to be Spanish; the rest are Moroccan nationals.

Some 140,000 people are said to have fled the ISIS advance on Kobane in recent days, crossing into Turkey.

Earlier this week, the UN Security Council adopted a binding resolution compelling states to prevent their nationals from joining jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

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