Image Russia strikes Syrian Democratic Forces near Deir Ezzor

Russia strikes Syrian Democratic Forces near Deir Ezzor

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Forces from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were struck by Russian air assets near the Deir Ezzor frontline on September 16th, this according to a statement made by the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR). The attack resulted in several SDF fighters suffering various degrees of injuries, and requiring medical care.

It had been announced prior to the Russian strike that the area contained SDF forces as well as Coalition advisers. Coalition advisers were present at the time, but were uninjured.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov denied the charge Sunday, saying that the Pentagon was informed about Russian military operations in advance, and the airstrikes were directed at ISIS targets. “The Russian Aerospace Force inflict pinpoint strikes only on targets, confirmed through multiple channels, in the districts controlled by IS,” Konashenkov said.

The majority of advisers come from the US, UK, and other allied forces, that are part of the wider anti-Islamic State (ISIS) coalition which operates in the area. The total number of countries participating in overall CJTF-OIR operations against ISIS stands at 55, resulting in a total manpower of 6,350 men and women. At least 8 of these countries are currently engaged in aerial operations in Syria, with the majority also providing advisors to ground forces.

The attack occurred despite the fact that the location struck was inside the multi-nationally established deconflict line, which has been mutually agreed by all parties.

The CJTF-OIR statement also specified that, “the Coalition and its partners remain committed to the defeat of ISIS and continued de-confliction with Russian officials. Coalition forces and partners always retain the right of self-defense.”

An incident such as this has long been expected as competing coalition factions, with opposing aerial supporting assets, are fighting to take ground in and around the besieged city of Deir Ezzor. The Damascus-led coalition’s air assets consist of Syrian and Russian Air Forces, in addition to Iranian and a variety of militia groups on the ground. The US-led coalition air assets presently consist of US, Australian, Danish, Dutch, German, French, Jordanian and UK air forces, supporting primarily the SDF forces on the ground.

The incident might come to disrupt the fragile truce that exists between the Damascus-coalition and US-led coalition forces operating in and around Deir Ezzor.

LIMA CHARLIE, MENA Desk

Lima Charlie provides global news, insight & analysis by military veterans and service members Worldwide.

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