Russia criticises U.S. over bombing of Syrian army near Deir al-Zor

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian Defence Ministry said on Saturday that U.S.-led coalition planes had bombed Syrian troops fighting Islamic State militants near the airport in Deir al-Zor, killing 62 soldiers and wounding about 100 more. If the strikes were a targeting error, the ministry said the bombings were evidence of Washington's refusal to consult Russia over its military action in Syria. Russia has bitterly complained about what it says is a U.S. reluctance to abide by the terms of a shaky ceasefire brokered by Moscow and Washington which it says made provision for joint targeting of Islamic State and other militant groups. "If this air strike was the result of a targeting error, it is a direct consequence of the U.S. side's stubborn unwillingness to coordinate its action against terrorist groups on Syrian territory with Russia," the defence ministry said in a statement. It said that Islamic State militants had immediately gone on the offensive after the strikes and that a fierce battle between them and the Syrian army was now under way in the area, where it said local residents had previously been receiving humanitarian aid by parachute over an extended period. The ministry said the strikes had been carried out between 1700 and 1750 local time by two F-16s and two A-10s, which had entered Syrian air space from the direction of Iraq. (Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Louise Ireland and Dominic Evans)