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Which planes hit the Syrian regime base in Deir e-Zor?

The Syrian Foreign Ministry claimed that warplanes with the US-led […]

7 December 2015

The Syrian Foreign Ministry claimed that warplanes with the US-led international coalition bombed one of its military outposts with nine rockets in the largely IS-controlled Deir e-Zor province on Sunday, calling it a “heinous act of aggression by the coalition” and filing the usual letters of complaint with the United Nations.

The ministry said the planes hit a base in the town of al-Ayash, 10 kilometers northwest of Deir e-Zor city, killing three soldiers, wounding 13 and destroying several military vehicles and weapons stores.

The base is part of a swath of regime-controlled territory, including northern neighborhoods of Deir e-Zor city itself as well as the military airport to the city’s south, currently surrounded by areas of IS control. 

American Colonel Steve Warren, the spokesperson for the coalition’s campaign, denied responsibility, saying that there were no strikes “in that area of Deir e-Zor” on Sunday.

By all accounts, it appears that someone’s planes hit al-Ayash on Sunday. Local opposition media campaign Deir e-Zor is Being Silently Slaughtered reported that “coalition planes bombed the regime’s al-Saeqa base near al-Ayash,” while the pro-regime news outlet al-Sahel Alan reported that “American planes had bombed a Syrian army base in Deir e-Zor” noting the loss of life, two tanks, and two ammunition depots.

“Our correspondents in Deir e-Zor observed three planes carrying out the bombing,” Ali Layli, the director of the pro-opposition Deir e-Zor 24 news site, which maintains a network of correspondents inside the province, tells Syria Direct’s Mohammed al-Haj Ali. Layli says he suspects that the bombing was a “mistake” on the coalition’s part.

What do you know about the bombing?

Our correspondents in Deir e-Zor observed three planes carrying out the bombing, which occurred on the outskirts of the military base, hitting one of its barracks. Most pro-regime news sources have reported that three soldiers were killed and others injured. This is the information that has been verified 100 percent so far. 

Q: What do you think was the cause of this airstrike?

In my opinion, this airstrike was a mistake by the coalition; since the start of their operations in Syria, their planes have never bombed any regime positions before.

There is another theory that says the base is four kilometers away from any IS-controlled area, so how could it be a mistake? The picture still isn’t 100 percent clear.

Our correspondents in the area did not see any regime planes take off from the Deir e-Zor military airport around the timing of the bombing.

What were the exact targets hit in the strike?

The targets were a barracks and ammunition depots. The FSA had previously attacked them several times, although they were not able to take them. When IS took over Deir e-Zor, they also launched several military operations on the base but these were thwarted. It is an empty area; there are no civilians living within six kilometers, although the regime regularly mortars nearby towns that have an IS presence in it from this base.

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