US-Backed Militia Complains Its Being Targeted By Russian Airstrikes

REUTERS/Rodi Said.

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Russia has officially denied targeting the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces with airstrikes in Deir ez-Zor as Russian-backed Syrian government forces move right up against the SDF.

Russian Major-General Igor Konashenkov issued the denial Monday in response to complaints from the Kurdish-led SDF that airstrikes killed several of its fighters and wounded others, Reuters reports.

“The Russian and regime forces have carried out an unfortunate attack on our forces at Koniko gas company, Ezba station and Nesic Factory,” an SDF statement read. “Aerial bombardments and artillery attacks left some of our fighters martyred and some others wounded.”

The Pentagon isn’t quite sure what to make of both Russian and SDF claims.

Army Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the anti-Islamic State coalition Operation Inherent Resolve, told Military Times that the SDF hasn’t reported any casualties to the coalition and has only noted the presence of indirect fire.

Still, Dillon said the lack of reports could simply be due to a delay. Dillon added that the coalition has passed unit location information to the Russians to avoid airstrikes against the SDF.

If the report of airstrikes against the SDF this time around are true, it would mark the second time in a week that the Russians hit the U.S.-backed militia. The U.S.-led coalition confirmed the strike.

“Russian munitions impacted a location known to the Russians to contain Syrian Democratic Forces and coalition advisers,” Operation Inherent Resolve said in a statement. “Several SDF fighters were wounded and received medical care as a result of the strike.”

Russia said in response that it was attempting to target ISIS fighters.

At the moment, Syrian government forces and the SDF are in a race to seize control of Syria’s oil and gas fields from ISIS fighters in Deir ez-Zor. The distance between both sides has now shrunk to just 2.5 miles.

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