Syria Daily: US Rejects Moscow’s Claims of “Interference” with Russian Operations

Russian troops in Deir ez-Zor Province in eastern Syria

Russia tries to push back US involvement behind Kurdish-led force in eastern Syria

UPDATE 1245 GMT: Russia’s Defense Ministry says it is “bewildered” at France calling out Moscow’s PR line on the Islamic State.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a TV interview that Russia had “misappropriated” the victory over ISIS. He noted that forces supported by the international coalition — a reference to the Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces — had pushed back ISIS, and that the Russian military and pro-Assad forces had later freed Deir ez-Zor city in eastern Syria.

The Defense Ministry complained:

The defeat of IS in Syria is first of all result of actions by the Syrian leadership and governmental forces. With support of the Russian Aerospace Force, the Syrian armed forces liberated from IS terrorists hundreds of settlements and returned under control of the legitimate leadership practically the entire territory of the country.

The Ministry insisted that the international coalition had focused on countering pro-Assad forces and only recent succeeded against ISIS through “mass bombing of Raqqa [city] and its civilians”.

The US has rejected Moscow’s claims that American warplanes are interfering with the operations of Russian counterparts in eastern Syria.

On Saturday, Russia’s Defense Ministry put out the line, claiming that on November 23, a US F-22 fighter prevented two Russian Su-25 strike aircraft from bombing an Islamic State base to the west of the Euphrates River.

“Most close midair encounters between Russian and US jets in the area around the Euphrates River have been linked to the attempts of US aircraft to get in the way [of] striking against Islamic State terrorists,” Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov asserted.

A Pentagon representative rejected the allegation, “Those claims are incorrect.” He also hit back at Russian declarations of complete victory against ISIS:

Our carefully considered military assessment is that Daesh is still present on both sides of the Euphrates River, and therefore Coalition surgical strikes continue on the East Bank of the Middle Euphrates River Valley in support of [the Kurdish-led] Syrian Democratic Forces.

We know that Russian and Syrian regime aircraft are continuing their strikes on the west bank of the Euphrates River, between the towns of Mayadin and Abu Kamal, so it is likely that [Daesh] has yet to be cleared from that area.

The Islamic State has been removed from all major positions in eastern Syria — including the cities of Deir ez-Zor, al-Bukamal, and Mayadin — by both a pro-Assad offensive and the advance of the US-supported SDF. However, pockets of ISIS fighters remain. The Islamic State is also making some gains, reportedly with assistance from pro-Assad units, in opposition territory in eastern Hama Province.

A Russian Pretext to Attack the SDF?

Russia’s tactics this week may be an attempt to push the US back in advance of a pro-Assad move against the SDF in Deir ez-Zor Province and along the Iraq border.

This autumn there were clashes between the pro-Assad units, supported by Russian airpower, and the SDF as they each moved into areas along the Euphrates River near Deir ez-Zor city. Russian forces laid bridges for the pro-Assad troops to move to the eastern bank of the Euphrates, held by the SDF. They bombed SDF positions on at least one occasion, with the SDF claiming others.

There have been no reports of confrontation in the past month; however, the Assad regime is still hoping that it can reoccupy oil and gas fields taken by the SDF from the Islamic State. Bashar al-Assad’s senior advisor Bouthaina Shaaban has promised an eventual battle with Kurdish forces.

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  1. “Mark‏ @markito0171
    1h1 hour ago
    Replying to @markito0171

    death of several namly known ISIS fighters confirm their transfer from eastern Syria to Hama province through Regime controlled areas.
    ISIS now fighting with #Assad regime + #Russia’n air support against #FSA & #HTS
    Dirty Game
    3 replies . 19 retweets 7 likes”
    Co-operation between Assads gang and ISIS is not new but never mentioned in the major media I follow.

    • 1. More likely than a GreenBus “transfer”, for which no evidence is presented, is that remnants of IS would want to breakout into Idlib, hoping to reach the Turkish border or whatever other motive?

      2. Now that they are there, why should Assad/Russia not use them as BotG to maximise HTS losses, rather than risking their own men?

      • You have always vociferously denied ISIS collaboration with Assad. Now you come to the senses and say “why should they not cooperate”! Bârakallâ yâ axi!

        • 1. “You have always vociferously denied ISIS collaboration with Assad.” — Ridiculed the equally agenda-driven as evidence-free conspiracy theory would be more accurate, but OK.

          2. “Now you come to the senses and say “why should they not cooperate”!” — I didn’t say that and herding ISIS with live ordnance towards your mutual enemies’ lines rather than your own does not equal cooperation with ISIS, it merely means one is coldly extracting some collateral battlefield use out of the hirsute walking dead before they are finally extirpated.

          In fact this is precisely the same tactic as infallible Yankistan recently employed in bombing them out of Mosul while leaving the way clear for them to pour into DeZ and hopefully overrun the isolated SAA garrison there, a wheeze foiled only by Soleimani’s chaps in Hashad al-Shabbi blocking their natural migration path at Tel Afar.

          3. “Bârakallâ yâ axi!” is not amenable to Google Translate but I’m guessing it means “Gawddamnit, you’re right again!”, yes?

          • Surely inviting and then busing wanted terrorists and releasing them in your enemy’s territory is deep cooperation. Also gives the terrorists the ability to mix with the crowd and disappear, only to pop up in Brussels. Just imagine if US flew these terrorists to Guantanamo so that they would attack Cuba. Same thing.

  2. That Rooskie in the photo looks to be scanning for open wifi signals with a battery-powered router, probably to piggy-back off of ISIS’ phat-piped ISP for free … Gawddamnit, is there no end to Putin’s malfeasance?

    • Lol – yup – trying to sniff and maybe spoof the router packets to catch Trump giving orders to al-Baqdadi.

      It must be a drone control and telemetry / video link device. Looks like a hobby unit built in China, on sale at Amazon!

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