Militants with EU-made kit & exiting US-patrolled area taken out by Syrian army – Russian MoD
Three off-road vehicles with heavy weaponry mounted on them were spotted by a Syrian militia unit patrolling the boundary of the US-controlled area in Al-Tanf, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday in a press release.
The Syrians opened fire, destroying two vehicles and killing five militants. The third vehicle managed to return to Al-Tanf, the ministry said. While checking the skirmish site, militia forces found Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) propaganda materials, European-made electronic warfare equipment as well as large amounts of small arms ammunition.
The slain militants could belong to a US-trained armed opposition group, according to the ministry. “Flags bearing insignia of the ‘Forces of Martyr Ahmad al-Abdo’ were found inside the vehicles,” the statement said, referring to a name of a militant group trained by American Special Forces in Al-Tanf.
The Russian military believes US forces have effectively turned their military base near the town of Al-Tanf in south-eastern Syria into a terrorist training camp.
The militants being trained there are “essentially ISIS,” Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov told Russian media last December, adding they “change their colors, take different names – the ‘New Syrian Army’ and others.”
Currently the militants are planning to flee the Al-Tanf area and prepare terrorist attacks in Syrian provinces of Damascus, Homs and Deir-ez-Zor “to engage and retract Syrian forces” fighting terrorists in Idlib, the Friday statement by Russia’s MoD said.
“These facts confirm that the US is actually involved in training various ‘armed opposition’ factions – being formed from Islamic State-affiliated [IS, formerly ISIS] groupings previously defeated by Syrian troops – to derail Syria’s peace process,” the Defense Ministry stated.
This is not the first time Russia has accused the US military of turning the Al-Tanf area into a terrorist hotbed.
The Russian Defense Ministry maintains the US uses Al-Tanf to train militants, including those of IS. It also said earlier that a number of attacks on government troops had originated from the area. The Americans had attacked Syrian forces and their allies outside the occupied area, claiming they posed a threat to the US contingent