Pentagon was informed about area of Russia’s military op in Deir ez-Zor in advance – Moscow
The Russian Defense Ministry has denied Pentagon allegations that it bombed US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces near Deir ez-Zor. The Russian military said that its US partners were informed about the area of the operation beforehand.
“To avoid unnecessary escalation, the command of the Russian troops in Syria revealed the boundaries of the military operation in Deir ez-Zor to the American partners through the existing communication channel,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
“Within the framework of this operation, the fighters, armored vehicles, and objects of terrorists are being destroyed on both western and eastern banks of the Euphrates.
At the same time, the Russian Air Force makes pinpoint strikes only on reconnaissance targets confirmed by several channels in IS-controlled areas,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said.
“Over the past few days, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, Russian control and reconnaissance facilities have not identified a single combat of Islamic State terrorists with armed representatives of any ‘third force.’ Therefore, only representatives of the international coalition can answer the question as to how ‘opposition members’ or ‘military advisers of the international coalition’ managed to get to the IS-held areas in the eastern part of Deir ez-Zor without striking a blow.”
The chief of Russia’s general staff, General Valery Gerasimov, has reportedly spent an hour on the phone discussing the matter with his US counterpart, General Joseph Dunford.
"Yesterday, a telephone conversation took place between the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces, Joseph Dunford, and the Chief of the Russian General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov. The key topic of the talks was the situation in Syria and, in particular, the incident at Deir ez-Zor," Russia’s Kommersant daily said Sunday.
The report added that Russian military routinely notifies the US forces in the region prior to carrying out sorties, at least two hours in advance. Moscow afterward shares the information about which targets have been destroyed.
The Pentagon stated on Saturday that Russian forces struck a target east of the Euphrates River in Syria near Deir ez-Zor “known to the Russians to contain Syrian Democratic Forces and Coalition advisers,” and several SDF fighters were wounded as a result.
“Multinational coalition troops advising and assisting the SDF were present but were not wounded as a result of the Russian strike,” the statement added.
READ MORE: ‘Not satisfied’ till Assad gone: US pushes for regime change as war in Syria winds down
The race between the legitimate Syrian government forces and the US-backed SDF umbrella group to control the oil-rich Deir ez-Zor Province intensified following the lifting of the blockade of the city by Syrian troops last week.
Last Tuesday, the Syrian military, backed by the Russian Air Force, finally broke the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) siege of Deir ez-Zor from the west, following a cruise missile strike on terrorist positions.
Earlier this week, it was reported that oilfields and a natural gas-processing plant southeast of the Deir ez-Zor airbase came under the control of the Syrian Army.
After the Damascus victory, the US-backed SDF announced a separate offensive east of Deir ez-Zor.
Almasdar news reported that both forces are apparently aiming to block each other’s path to the city of Albukamal on the Euphrates River, which lies near the border with Iraq.
However, an SDF commander told Sputnik that it was instructed not to act against Damascus forces and its allies.
RT contributor Finian Cunningham believes that while this week’s spectacular victory – liberating Deir ez-Zor – for Syrian state forces and allies portends an end to the war, celebrations should be tempered by the realization that the enemies of Syria will shift their agenda for conflict elsewhere.
“If we segregate the many protagonists in Syria’s conflict, the two main rivals to emerge from the melee are the United States and Russia. Russia may have gained the upper hand in Syria. But, ironically, winning the peace in Syria may unleash wars elsewhere.
Reports that US military forces have been airlifting insurgents out of harm’s way in Syria suggest that Washington is saving its terrorist assets to fight another day, perhaps in some other unfortunate country targeted for regime change,” he wrote.