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Russia says latest US air strike in Syria hits civilians

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Syria says US air strike killed several people and caused material damage. AP file photo

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20th-May-2017       
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Reuters, Moscow :
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Friday that a U.S. military strike against militia supported by the Syrian government had hit civilians and was unacceptable, Russian news agencies reported.
Gatilov, who the agencies said was speaking in Geneva, said the U.S. strike had violated Syria's sovereignty and would not help efforts to find a political solution to the conflict there.
The U.S. military carried out the air strike on Thursday against militia supported by the Syrian government that posed a threat to U.S. and U.S.-backed Syrian fighters in the country's south, U.S. officials told Reuters.
A military source on the Syrian government side said on Friday that the air strike had hit "one of our military points", without elaborating, Syrian state TV reported.
The air strike late on Thursday killed several people and caused material damage, the source said, saying that this hampered efforts by the Syrian army and its allies to fight Islamic State.
Russia and Iran have deployed forces to Syria to back up leader Bashar al-Assad while the US and many of its regional and Western allies have called for the strongman to leave power.
The United States in April infuriated the Kremlin by bombing a Syrian regime airbase in response to an alleged chemical attack by Damascus.
Representatives of Syria's government and opposition High Negotiations Committee are in Switzerland for the sixth round of UN-backed peace negotiations, but there has been little sign of progress.
In the first concrete results from talks this week on ending Syria's conflict, the United Nations said the warring sides had agreed to set up expert committees to discuss "constitutional issues."
Another deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, told TASS news agency that Russia "supports" the move.
Meanwhile, Syria on Friday condemned a US-led coalition strike on pro-government forces as a "brazen attack" and said it would "not be intimidated" after the surprise assault.
US-led warplanes carried out the Thursday strike in the east of the country against a convoy of pro-government forces headed towards a remote coalition garrison near the border with Jordan.
"On Thursday at 16:30, the so-called international coalition attacked one of the Syrian Arab Army's positions on the Al-Tanf road in the Syrian Badia region, producing a number of martyrs and causing material damage," a military source told Syrian state media.
"This brazen attack by the so-called international coalition exposes the falseness of its claims to be fighting terrorism," it added.

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