Russia denies bombing US-backed SDF troops

Russia denies bombing US-backed SDF troops
From Al Jazeera - September 17, 2017

Russia has denied accusations it bombed US-backed fighters in Syria, saying the US military received advance warning of an air strike targeting ISIL members.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-supported alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, said six of its members were wounded during the Russian-backed Syrian government offensive on Saturday in Syria's northeastern Deir Az Zor province.

The Pentagon on Saturday accused the Russians of deliberately targeting SDF soldiers and coalition advisers.

Major-General Igor Konashenkov, chief spokesman for the Russian ministry of defence, dismissed the claims, saying Russia attacked only Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) targets based on multiple-source intelligence of their locations.

"Russian air forces carry out pinpoint strikes only on IS targets that have been observed and confirmed through several channels," state news agency TASS quoted Konashenkov as saying on Sunday.

"In the last few days, Russian surveillance and reconnaissance did not detect a single clash between Islamic State and armed representatives of any 'third force' on the eastern bank of the Euphrates," he said.

Konashenkov added the SDF, and American authorities, had been sufficiently informed prior to the air strike.

"To avoid unnecessary escalation, the commanders of Russian forces in Syria used an existing communications channel to inform our American partners in good time about the borders of our military operation in Deir Az Zor," he said.


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