Russia protests over ‘provocative actions’ by US forces in Syria
Moscow: Russian forces in Syria have protested over what Moscow described as “provocative actions” by United States forces also deployed in the country, Russia’s state news agency TASS has reported.
TASS cited a senior Russian military official on Friday saying that “provocative” incidents had occurred in Syria’s northeastern province of Hassakeh where US forces have been deployed for several years, leading a coalition of local Kurdish troops battling against ISIL (ISIS) and its remnants.
“Provocative actions on the part of US armed forces units have been noted in Hassakeh province … the Russian side lodged a protest with the coalition,” Russian Rear Admiral Oleg Gurinov, head of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria, told TASS.
Gurnivo said US troops had twice been spotted by Russian forces in areas that lay outside their agreed zones of operation, without giving details of timing.
“During joint Russian-Turkish patrols, the movement of two patrols conducted by the so-called anti-terrorist coalition were tracked along the non-deconfliction routes near Deiruna-Aga and Saramsak. The Russian side has protested to the coalition,” Gurinov said, according to TASS.
Russia – which together with Turkey is carrying out joint patrols in northern Syria – has agreed on special zones where the US-led coalition can operate as it takes on hundreds of ISIL fighters camped in desolate areas of Syria where neither the coalition nor the Syrian army exerts full control.
The US-led coalition has been engaged in Syria for almost eight years while Russia intervened in the Syrian Civil War in 2015, tipping the balance in President Bashar Al-Assad’s favour. Moscow has since expanded its military facilities in Syria with a permanent air and naval base.
Last week, the US carried out multiple air attacks in Syria against what it said were Iran-aligned armed groups, which the Pentagon blamed for a previous drone attack. US officials said the attack by the armed group killed a US military contractor, injured another, and wounded about a dozen US soldiers at a coalition base in the northeast of the country near Hassakeh city.
Pro-Iranian forces in Syria warned in an online statement signed by the Iranian Advisory Committee in Syria that they would respond to the US air strikes on their positions.