US-led coalition air strikes have reportedly killed dozens of Syrian soldiers, endangering a US-Russian brokered ceasefire and prompting an emergency UN Security Council meeting as tensions between Moscow and Washington escalated, Reuters reports.
The United States military said the coalition stopped the attacks against what it had believed to be Islamic State positions in northeast Syria after Russia informed it that Syrian military personnel and vehicles may have been hit.
The 15-member Security Council met on Saturday night after Russia demanded an emergency session to discuss the incident and accused the United States of jeopardising the Syria deal.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, chastised Russia for the move.
"Russia really needs to stop the cheap point scoring and the grandstanding," Power told reporters.
She said the United States was investigating the air strikes and "if we determine that we did indeed strike Syrian military personnel, that was not our intention and we of course regret the loss of life."
When asked if the incident spelled the end of the Syria deal between Moscow and Washington, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said: "This is a very big question mark."
"I would be very interested to see how Washington is going to react. If what Ambassador Power has done today is any indication of their possible reaction then we are in serious trouble," Churkin told reporters.
Moscow cited the strikes, which allowed Islamic State fighters to briefly overrun a Syrian army position near Deir al-Zor airport, as evidence that the United States was helping the jihadist militants.
"We are reaching a really terrifying conclusion for the whole world: That the White House is defending Islamic State," the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying.
Zakharova said the strikes threatened to undermine the ceasefire in Syria brokered by Russia.
The Russian Defence Ministry said US jets had killed more than 60 Syrian soldiers in four air strikes by two F-16s and two A-10s coming from the direction of Iraq.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group, cited a military source at Deir al-Zor airport as saying at least 90 Syrian soldiers had been killed.
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