Russia says its forces will target U.S.-backed fighters in Syria if attacked – Forward Observer Shop

Russia says its forces will target U.S.-backed fighters in Syria if attacked

Russian officials have informed the Trump administration that Moscow’s forces in Syria would target U.S.-backed fighters in Syria if they are attacked again, something the Russian Defense Ministry says has already happened two times.

The warning came in reference to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias fighting on the side of a U.S.-led coalition that seeks to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russia, meanwhile, backs the Syrian regime.

The defense ministry said that the SDF recently diverted from the battle to retake Raqqa to Deir al-Zor, where Russian special forces troops are assisting Syrian government forces expel Islamic State fighters, which is nearly complete.

SDF fighters were taking up positions on the eastern banks of the Euphrates River alongside U.S. special forces. Russian officials say they have twice opened fire using mortars and artillery to target Syrian troops who are operating alongside Russian special forces.

“A representative of the U.S. military command in Al Udeid (the U.S. operations center in Qatar) was told in no uncertain terms that any attempts to open fire from areas where SDF fighters are located would be quickly shut down,” Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

“Fire points in those areas will be immediately suppressed with all military means.”

The SDF, meanwhile, has warned the Syrian army against making any further advances in the area.

Why it’s on our radar: Information in this article helps satisfy Priority Intelligence Requirement 1: What are the latest indicators of a NATO-Russia conflict?  Each week in our Strategic Intelligence Summary, we gauge the likelihood and scope of conflict with Russia, China, North Korea, and in the Middle East, and track the latest developments in each region. Subscribe here to receive our premium intelligence products prepared by Intelligence and special operations veterans.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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