■ A U.S.-backed force in Syria said a Russian airstrike wounded six of its fighters.
U.S.-backed force says Russians behind attack
BEIRUT — A U.S.-backed force in Syria said a Russian airstrike wounded six of its fighters Saturday near the eastern city of Deir el-Zour while in southeast Syria, Syrian troops and their Iran-backed allies began a new offensive aiming to capture areas along the Iraq border under the cover of Russian airstrikes.
The command of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said in a statement that Saturday’s air raid occurred on the eastern side of the Euphrates River in the industrial area that was recently liberated from the Islamic State group.
The U.S. military said in a statement that Russian forces struck a target east of the Euphrates River near Deir el-Zour causing injuries to
U.S.-led coalition partner forces.
“Russian munitions impacted a location known to the Russians to contain Syrian Democratic Forces and Coalition advisers,” the statement said, adding that the wounded SDF fighters received medical care following the strike.
It said that multinational coalition troops advising and assisting the SDF were present but not wounded as a result of the Russian strike.
“Coalition officials are available and the de-confliction line with Russia is open 24 hours per day,” said Coalition commander Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II.
“We put our full efforts into preventing unnecessary escalation among forces that share ISIS as our common enemy,” said Funk using an acronym to refer to IS.
“The coalition and its partners remain committed to the defeat of ISIS and continued de-confliction with Russian officials,” the statement said. “Coalition forces and partners always retain the right of self-defense.”
SDF fighters have been advancing against IS fighters on the east bank of the Euphrates while Syrian government forces and their allies are pushing on the western side against the extremists.
The march by the SDF aims to prevent Syrian troops and their allies from expanding their presence along the border with Iraq.
The air raid came as Syrian troops and their Iran-backed allies began a new offensive dubbed “Fajr 3,” or “Dawn 3,” that aims to capture areas along the border with Iraq in southeast Syria under the cover of Russian airstrikes, according to a statement by the commander of Iran-backed fighters.