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US says it may have struck Syrian troops while targeting IS

If confirmed, it would mark the first known direct American strike on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces. The United Nations Security Council held a closed emergency meeting Saturday night at Russia’s request to discuss the airstrike.

U.S. Central Command said the strike was immediately halted “when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military.”

The Syrian military said the deadly airstrike hit a base in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour that is surrounded by IS, allowing the extremists to advance and overrun Syrian army positions in the area. Russia’s military said it was told by the Syrian army that at least 62 soldiers were killed in the air raid and more than 100 wounded.

The apparently errant strike could deal a crushing blow to the fragile cease-fire that has largely held for five days despite dozens of alleged violations on both sides. The cease-fire, which does not apply to attacks on IS, has already been the subject of disputes between Moscow and Washington, with each accusing the other of failing to fully implement it.

“Coalition forces would not intentionally strike a known Syrian military unit,” the U.S. military statement said.