Russia claims US dropped phosphorus bombs over Syria
Russia’s military said on Sunday that two United States F-15 fighter jets dropped phosphorus bombs over Syria’s Deir al-Zor province on Saturday, the TASS and RIA news agencies reported — an allegation denied by the US.
The air strikes targeted the village of Hajin, the last major stronghold of ISIS in Syria, and resulted in fires, but there was no information about casualties, the Russian military said.
A Pentagon spokesman denied that US planes dropped phosphorus bombs. “At this time, we have not received any reports of any use of white phosphorous,” said Commander Sean Robertson. “None of the military units in the area are even equipped with white phosphorous munitions of any kind.”
Human rights groups have said the US-led coalition against ISIS has used white phosphorous munitions over the course of the Syria conflict. The bombs can create thick white smoke screens and are used as incendiary devices.
The rights groups criticise use of the munitions in populated zones because they can kill and maim by burning people to the bone.
The coalition forces likely conducted aerial strikes in July on eastern Syria where remnants of ISIS are holed up.
US-Russian tensions have heightened in recent days as the Donald Trump administration considers military options, should Syria ignore US warnings against using chemical weapons in an expected assault on Idlib, the last rebel enclave.
Russian and Syrian jets resumed strikes in Idlib and Hama on Sunday as Damascus stepped up its assault after a Russian-Iranian-Turkish summit failed to agree on a ceasefire.