Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, commander of the US-led coalition forces against ISIS, accused Russia of bombing the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) resulting in ‘some casualties’. The Russian government quickly denied the news.
“Yesterday we had some Russian aircraft and regime aircraft bomb some villages that I believe they thought were held by ISIS. Yet, on the ground were some of our Syrian Arab Coalition [an SDF faction],” General Townsend said.
“They had seen ISIS move out of the area as the regime and the Turks’ advance. The ISIS fighters withdrew, and the [SDF] advanced into those villages,” he said.
The U.S. forces were four or five kilometers away from the area where the airstrikes took place, the top commander said. “We’re not fighting, we’re not at the front, we’re advising at command echelons a little bit farther back,” he said.
“So they were back, they observed these strikes. It became apparent that the strikes were falling on some of the [SDF-led] Syrian Arab Coalition positions and some quick calls were made to our deconfliction channels and the Russians acknowledged and stopped bombing there,” General Townsend said.
“And so we worked out an arrangement, a deconfliction. This is something that goes on daily in the air. Not every day on the ground, but daily in the air there’s a deconfliction arrangement with the Russians. And we used that mechanism and it worked,” he furthermore stated.
Russia’s Defense Ministry in a statement released by RT rejected the accusations ‘put forward by a US military commander.’
The Russian military in Syria had been contacted by their American counterparts, who “expressed concern” that Russian and Syrian aircraft could “carry out an unintended strike” at positions of Washington-backed fighters during an anti-terrorist operation, the Russian ministry said.
“To avoid any incidents, the US representative has provided exact coordinates of the US-backed opposition forces in the region to a Russian officer,” the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that the information was “taken into account” by the Russian military.
“Not a single air strike on the regions specified by the US side was conducted by Russian or Syrian air forces,” the statement added.
So far, the SDF has not responded to the statements of the US-led coalition and the Russian army.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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