Russian jets twice bombed a secret military base in Syria used by British and American forces last month, once only 90 minutes after Russia was told they were bombing a site used by the two countries, according to reports that emerged Friday.
The Interfax News Agency in Moscow and the Wall Street Journal reported the attacks took place June 16 at the base, located along the border between Syria and Jordan. The Journal reported that about 20 British troops who had been temporarily stationed at the base had left it about 24 hours before the Russian attacks.
Interfax quoted its sources as saying the attacks took place because the U.S. did not accede to Russian demands that it be provided with information on American and British activities in areas where Syrian moderates were located.
In the first attack, the Russian plane dropped a cluster bomb, American officials said. Although the U.S. central command air operations center in Qatar then called Russia’s air campaign headquarters in Latakia, Syria, to avert any future attacks and tell them the base shouldn’t be attacked, it was attacked again about90 minutes later.
Although the U.S. tried to reach Russian pilots on frequencies both sides agreed to use in emergencies, the Russian pilots did not answer. At least four rebels died in the attacks.
According to the report in the Wall Street Journal, the Russians gave U.S. officials multiple explanations for their attack, including the claim that Jordan gave the go-ahead for the attack when no such permission was given.