George Ourfalian / AFP / Getty Images

Syria accuses US-led coalition of killing government troops

If true, would mark first time US coalition has targeted Syrian government forces, but US has denied any involvement

The Syrian government said Monday that the U.S.–led coalition was responsible for airstrikes that killed three Syrian soldiers and wounded 13 others in the country’s east. The U.S. military, however, denied any involvement. 

Monday's statement from the Syrian foreign ministry said that four aircraft belonging to the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targeted the Syrian army camp in Deir Ez Zor — which is held mainly by ISIL but also has zones occupied by the Syrian government — on Sunday night.

If confirmed, the attack would be the first time the U.S. coalition has hit Syrian troops. Syria's foreign ministry said the strikes hampered "efforts to combat terrorism" and allegedly proved "that this coalition lacks seriousness and credibility." 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the incident.

But the U.S. military told Al Jazeera in an email it conducted four strikes in Deir Ez Zor Sunday — "all against oil well heads" — and 34 miles away from the town of Ayyash.

"We did not strike any vehicles or personnel targets in this area. We have no indication any Syrian soldiers were even near our strikes," the U.S, military said. "We take all allegations of potential collateral damage seriously and will look into every allegation we receive."

Another airstrike in Deir Ez Zor overnight killed a woman and two of her children, said the Syrian Observatory, which relies on a network of activists, medical staff, and fighters on the ground for information.

Also Sunday, at least 32 ISIL fighters were killed in apparent U.S.-led coalition raids, as Syria's President Bashar al-Assad slammed Britain's decision last week to join the fight. The observatory said the ISIL members were killed in about 15 strikes on the group's stronghold of Raqqa province in northern Syria.

The monitoring group's director Rami Abdel Rahman said airstrikes hit an ISIL headquarters and bases to the north, east, and southeast of Raqqa city — ISIL’s de facto capital.

Syria's conflict has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people, and another four million have been forced to flee the country since fighting erupted in March 2011.

Sunday’s incidents came as President Obama pledged to destroy ISIL and hunt down its followers at home and abroad in a rare address from the Oval Office on Sunday night.

The speech followed a shooting rampage in California last week that saw an apparently radicalized couple kill 14 people. Obama pledged that the United States would "hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary."

But he said he would not be "drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq and Syria," saying that was what ISIL sought.

"They know they can't defeat us on the battlefield ... but they also know that if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops and draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits," he said. 

Al Jazeera and wire services 

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