U.S., Russia trade jabs on Twitter over Syria bombings

"The first steps are unsubstantiated [U.S.] statements against the Russian party -- to divert all suspicion from themselves," Russia's Ministry of Defense tweeted.
By Doug G. Ware   |   Feb. 12, 2016 at 6:34 PM

ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The latest diplomatic row between the United States and Russia found a new venue this week -- social media.

A war of words erupted on Twitter Thursday, between the Russian Ministry of Defense and a Pentagon spokesman, over bombings in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Russia has claimed the bombings were carried out Wednesday by the U.S. military -- a charge denied by the State Department.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, has indicated that Russia had a hand in the Aleppo bombings.

"Yesterday at 13:55 (MSK), 2 A-10 attack aircraft of US AF entered Syrian airspace from Turkish territory made strikes on objects in city," the Russian ministry tweeted in English.

Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, which is aimed at fighting the Islamic State, responded a short time later with Twitter words of his own.

"Russia's tweets are wrong," he said. "Furthermore their bombing is reckless and indiscriminate and their efforts are strategically short-sighted."

The exchange continued.

"Col. Warren is to be disappointed -- [Russian] aircraft didn't work near Aleppo yesterday. Nearest target was more than 20 km far from city," the Ministry of Defense replied.

"Colonel Warren, for some reason, did not make this mission public in the literal and even figurative sense," another Russian tweet read.

"Strikes in question didn't happen yesterday. Regardless, only [Russia and Syria are] operating over Aleppo," Warren fired back.

Russia then likened the Aleppo bombings Wednesday to an October U.S. airstrike on a hospital in Afghanistan operated by Médecins Sans Frontières. That strike killed 42 people.

"Syria situation is similar to the one where US bombed hospital in Kunduz and positions of Iraqi Army in Fallujah," the Russian ministry tweeted. "The first steps are unsubstantiated [U.S.] statements against the Russian party -- to divert all suspicion from themselves."

Warren then seized on a previous tweet from the Russian ministry itself that referenced military action against militants in the area and stated, "two powerful field commanders were liquidated in Aleppo."

"Russia admission of strikes near Aleppo," he said.

The Twitter exchanges occurred on the same day Secretary of State John Kerry announced a ceasefire agreement aimed at putting an end to the five-year Syrian civil war.

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