Russia accuses US of using phosphorus bombs in Syria
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Russia accuses US of using phosphorus bombs in Syria

Moscow: Russia's military says two US F-15 fighter jets have dropped phosphorus bombs over Syria's Deir al-Zor province, an allegation denied by the United States.

The Russian miliary said the strikes took place on Saturday, the TASS and RIA news agencies reported on Sunday.

A civil defense worker watches as smoke rises from a Syrian government airstrike, in Hobeit village, near Idlib.

A civil defense worker watches as smoke rises from a Syrian government airstrike, in Hobeit village, near Idlib.Credit:AP

The air strikes targeted the village of Hajin, the last major stronghold of Islamic State 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.

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"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 Islamic State 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 the use of the munitions in populated zones because they can kill and maim by burning people to the bone.

Smoke rising over buildings that were hit by airstrikes, in al-Sahan village, Idlib, Syria, on Tuesday.

Smoke rising over buildings that were hit by airstrikes, in al-Sahan village, Idlib, Syria, on Tuesday.Credit:AP

The coalition or partner forces likely conducted aerial strikes in July on eastern Syria where remnants of Islamic State are holed up, the coalition has said.

US-Russian tensions have heightened in recent days as the Trump administration considers military options should Syria ignore US warnings against using chemical weapons in an expected assault on Idlib, the last big enclave of rebels opposing Syria's government.

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.

On Sunday, government forces bombed the village of Hobeit in Idlib province, killing an infant girl and wounding several other civilians, the Syrian Civil Defense search-and-rescue group reported.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Russian and Syrian government airstrikes on the towns of Latamneh and Kafr Zeita in the neighboring Hama province. It said a hospital in Latamneh was struck and damaged, and had to be closed.

Russia, Turkey, and Iran are all tied to the Syrian civil war. Russia and Iran have thrown their support behind President Bashar Assad's government to help crush the 2011 uprising that sparked the war. Turkey has intervened to supply Syria's rebels in the north and check the expansion of Kurdish self-rule along its borders. But the three brokers have been careful to avoid direct conflict with each other.

Turkey's has 12 military outposts inside Idlib province, the core of the opposition's remaining territory.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday urged his counterparts to accept a cease-fire and avert a "bloodbath" in Idlib. But Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a "total annihilation of terrorists in Syria," while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke of "cleansing the Idlib region of terrorists."

The UN has warned that a battle over Idlib and Hama will spark a humanitarian catastrophe. More than 3 million people live in the territory, nearly half of them already displaced from fighting elsewhere in Syria.

AP, Reuters