BEIRUT – The Syrian army said an airstrike late on Wednesday by the U.S.-led coalition hit poison gas supplies belonging to Islamic State, releasing a toxic substance that killed “hundreds,” but the coalition denied carrying out raids in the area.
A statement by the army, flashed on Thursday by Syrian state TV, said the incident in the eastern Deir al-Zor province proved that Islamic State and al-Qaida-linked militants “possess chemical weapons.”
The report could not immediately be independently verified.
U.S. Air Force Colonel John Dorrian, a spokesman for the coalition, said it had carried out no airstrikes in that area at that time.
“The Syrian claim is incorrect and likely intentional misinformation,” he said in an email.
The United States launched cruise missiles at a Syrian air base last week, in response to a deadly poison gas attack in the west of the country that Washington blamed on President Bashar Assad’s government, which on Thursday reportedly called the allegation a “100 percent fabrication.”
Syria and its ally Russia deny Damascus carried out any such chemical attack. Moscow has said the poison gas in that incident belonged to rebels.
The U.S. strike on the Syrian air base was the first time Washington has deliberately and directly targeted the Syrian government. It is separately waging an air campaign against Islamic State in eastern Syria.
In a related event, an airstrike Tuesday by a U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group mistakenly killed 18 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces south of Tabqa, Syria, the Pentagon said on Thursday.
“The strike was requested by the partnered forces, who had identified the target location as an ISIS fighting position,” it said in a statement, referring to the Islamic State militant group by an acronym. “The target location was actually a forward Syrian Democratic Forces fighting position.”
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