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Russian Federation to target US-backed SDF in Syria if provoked

Russian Federation to target US-backed SDF in Syria if provoked”

US-backed fighters have captured 90 percent of the Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State group after overrunning five strategic neighborhoods, a monitor said on Wednesday. "Russian drones and intelligence have not recorded any confrontations between IS and the 'third force, ' the SDF", the Russian general said.

Dillion said that, to his knowledge, this was the first meeting of its kind.

It was not immediately clear when or where these forces have been deployed but a Russian defense ministry statement said that their aim is to assist the Syrian government in its offensive outside Deir Ezzor city.

Most of its onetime Syria bastion Raqa, long a byword for its most gruesome atrocities, is now in the hands of US-backed fighters, while elsewhere in Syria IS has suffered major losses to Russian-backed government forces.

Russian military forces fighting in Syria have issued a stern warning to their American counterparts in the country that they would not hesitate to fire on them if provoked.

He added: 'A representative of the USA military command was told in no uncertain terms that any attempts to open fire from areas where SDF fighters are located would be quickly shut down'.

"Attempts to open fire from SDF-controlled areas would be immediately met with retaliation", Russian defense ministry spokesman Maj.

Coalition officials have denied that any such attacks have taken place.

Arab and Kurdish Democratic forces last week reached center city in Raqqa.

Asked Thursday about the growing turbulence with the Russians, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters, "I am not anxious, we continue to deal with the Russians in a collaborative way, we'll sort this out".

In Southern Syria in the tri border region, he said coalition forces continue to conduct patrols and prepare for counter ISIS operations with their partner forces. "We'll sort this out". Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Gen. Igor Konashenkov said that Russia would target the area where the US and coalition advisers are if the Russian aligned troops again came under field.

"As we have seen, the convergence of forces next to one another just increases the need for these de-confliction measures", he said.

Rami Abdelrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a United Kingdom -based monitoring group that has an extensive network of rebel and activist sources in Syria, said that the Kurdish-Arab coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, now controls "over 90 percent" of the city's neighborhoods.

Whether or not the post-ISIS fight for control of Syria, which has been embroiled in a brutal civil war since 2011, will draw the US into a direct military engagement with Russian Federation and Iran remains to be seen, but Thursday's warning seems to suggest that avoiding such an outcome will require commanders on both sides to exercise extreme restraint.

Syrian armed forces supported by the Russian Air Force have regained control of 87.4 percent of the country, Russia's military said, adding that Russian warplanes had destroyed over 96,000 terrorist targets in the course of the two-year campaign.

Coinciding with the spokesman's revelations, Russian Federation issued a warning Thursday that it would target USA -backed fighters in Syria if they came under fire again.

US officials in the past, however, have shied away from using words like collaborate and co-ordinate, to avoid the appearance of any military-to-military relationship with Russian Federation that would cross the congressional line.



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