U.S. halts airstrikes in Syria after Russia says they targeted soldiers

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Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad flash victory signs as they stand at a military complex, after they recaptured areas in southwestern Aleppo on Sunday that rebels had seized last month, Syria, in this handout picture provided by SANA on September 5, 2016. On Saturday, Russia accused U.S.-led airstrikes of targeting Syrian troops. SANA/Handout via Reuters

Forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad flash victory signs as they stand at a military complex, after they recaptured areas in southwestern Aleppo on Sunday that rebels had seized last month, Syria, in this handout picture provided by SANA on September 5, 2016. On Saturday, Russia accused U.S.-led airstrikes of targeting Syrian troops. SANA/Handout via Reuters

U.S. military officials said they halted airstrikes Saturday against what were thought to be Islamic State targets in Syria after Russia claimed they killed dozens of Syrian soldiers.

The announcement comes five days after a ceasefire between forces loyal to the Syrian government and rebel factions, brokered between the U.S. and Russia, took effect. Russia claims the airstrikes killed at least 62 Syrian soldiers, who were said to be hunkered down inside a military base surrounded by Islamic State fighters.

In a written statement, U.S. Central Command said it stopped the airstrikes outside the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa as soon as Russian officials informed them that “it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military.”

“The location of the strike is in an area the coalition has struck in the past,” the statement read. “Syria is a complex situation with various military forces and militias in close proximity but coalition forces would not intentionally strike a known Syria military unit.”

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