US, Russia Trade Blame After Airstrikes Kill 23 Civilians in Eastern Syria

Strikes Targeted ISIS Territory in Deir Ezzor

by Jason Ditz, September 15, 2016

US and Russia defense officials today issued a pair of statements, each blaming the other, after a series of four airstrikes targeted the town of al-Mayadin, an ISIS-held town in Deir Ezzor Province. The strikes killed 23 civilians, and mark the first deaths since the ceasefire began Monday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the incident, but conceded they didn’t know who launched the airstrikes. The dueling statements both blamed the other side, while the State Department conceded there had been unspecified “violations” on both sides.

The ceasefire itself has been an overwhelming success, with violence nationwide down dramatically this week. Even these airstrikes technically aren’t a ceasefire violation, since ISIS isn’t a party to the ceasefire, though targeting civilians would be an embarrassment for whoever is ultimately to blame.

Both the US and Russia are active in Deir Ezzor Province, and both have targeted ISIS locations in the area in the past. It is therefore impossible to know at the moment which side actually launched this particular attack, let alone why.

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