By: Zack Duvall
Russian officials took to official channels to make clear their intentions to target U.S-backed forces in Syria, if they continue to fire upon Russian-supported Syrian Army units.
The Kremlin claims that two separate incidents took place during the battle to re-take Raqqa from the Islamic State in which troops from the Syrian Democratic Force, a U.S proxy in the region, diverted units to the town of Deir al-Zor who then set-up mortar positions along the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. The Russians claim that after these positions were established the SDF units proceeded to fire upon Syrian Army and Russian special force’s units as they attempted to cross the river.
The SDF denies the allegations, but do admit that warning shots were fired to stop Syrian Army units from advancing on their location, however are adamant great lengths were taken to keep Russian forces out of harm’s way.
“A representative for the U.S. military command in Al-Udeid was told in no uncertain terms that any attempts to open fire from areas where SDF fighters are located would be quickly shut down. Fire points in those areas will be immediately suppressed with all military means.” Russian Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement released by the Russian military as news of the warnings became public.
Al-Udeid is the U.S. operations center in Qatar responsible for command decisions in Syria.
The new round of threats from Russia comes as the nation’s military prepares for its latest round of war-games ominously called “west” and Russian President Vladimir Putin opted out of attending the on-going UN summit in New York this week.
The United States and Russia have been involved in a proxy-war style stand-off since the beginning of the conflict in war-torn Syria with both vying for strategic influence in the region, and Russia desperately seeking access to Syria’s Black Sea ports.
This is a conflict that could have huge implications in the Middle East, and involves all conceivable actors in the region, including Iran. The U.S.-backed SDF is not expected to back down and has actually issued yet another warning of its own against any further advances by the Syrian Army Eastward from the Euphrates.
U.S. officials are expected to issue a response by Thursday afternoon as President Trump meets with numerous world leaders today covering a range of topics from North Korea to trade deals and terrorism. Including an Thursday afternoon meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko who is expected to discuss Russian aggression in the region with President Trump.
As of Thursday morning, U.S. military operations in Syria are being carried out with no change in operational plans.