Rus­sia de­nies claim of airstrike on U.S.-backed Syr­ian force

Truro Daily News - - CLASSIFIED­S / WORLD -

The Rus­sian mil­i­tary de­nied claims on Sun­day that it struck a U.S.-backed force in east­ern Syria, wound­ing six ghters.

e Kur­dish-led and U.S.-sup­ported Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces said Satur­day that its ghters had been hit in the airstrike near the east­ern city of Deir el-Zour in an in­dus­trial area that re­cently had been lib­er­ated from the Is­lamic State group.

West­ern forces em­bed­ded with the SDF were not in­jured, the U.S. mil­i­tary said. e SDF is sup­ported by a U.S.-led in­ter­na­tional coali­tion of forces to de­feat IS mil­i­tants in Syria and Iraq. An es­ti­mated 900 U.S. troops are em­bed­ded with part­ner forces in Syria. ey pro­vide ar­tillery sup­port and can com­mand air sup­port.

Rus­sian De­fence Min­istry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenko­v said: “Rus­sian air forces carry out pin­point strikes only on IS tar­gets that have been ob­served and con­firmed through sev­eral chan­nels.”

SDF ghters have been ad­vanc­ing against IS ghters on the east bank of the Euphrates while Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces and their al­lies are push­ing on the west­ern side against the ji­hadists.

e march by the SDF aims to pre­vent Syr­ian troops and their al­lies from ex­pand­ing their pres­ence along the bor­der with Iraq.

Also Sun­day, the UN’s World Food Pro­gram halted its air drops to Deir El Zour after its trucks were to reach the city with food re­lief, for the rst time since May 2014. A ve-truck con­voy brought with it enough wheat to feed 70,000 peo­ple, the or­ga­ni­za­tion said in a state­ment. Mon­i­tor­ing groups re­ported that res­i­dents were re­ceiv­ing wheat dis­tri­bu­tions the same day.

With the city be­sieged by mil­i­tants from the Is­lamic State group, the WFP be­gan de­liv­er­ing aid through high-al­ti­tude air drops in April last year. It ew mis­sions

ve times a week and com­pleted 309 air drops be­fore halt­ing the pro­gram. Nearly 100,000 peo­ple were trapped un­der the siege.

Pro-gov­ern­ment forces broke the siege on Sept. 5 and se­cured the high­way to the cap­i­tal, Da­m­as­cus, shortly after. It im­me­di­ately be­gan or­ga­niz­ing its own aid de­liv­er­ies to the city, re­plen­ish­ing empty store shelves with milk, pasta, canned foods and other ba­sic goods. Prices for ba­sic food­stu s have fallen by 25 to 30 per cent since the nal days of the siege, ac­cord­ing to Gaziantep-based Ali Rahbe, of the ac­tivist-run Jus­tice For Life mon­i­tor­ing group.

e gov­ern­ment now con­trols two-thirds of Deir el-Zour, ac­cord­ing to the Bri­tain-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights mon­i­tor­ing group.

But its cam­paign has come at a high cost to civil­ian life, says the Ob­ser­va­tory and the ac­tivist-run mon­i­tor­ing group, DeirEz­zor 24.

Both groups say air­craft have been bomb­ing river cross­ings, hos­pi­tals, and other civil­ian in­fra­struc­ture along the Euphrates River Val­ley. e Ob­ser­va­tory re­ported 34 civil­ian fa­tal­i­ties since Satur­day, at­tribut­ing four to coali­tion air strikes on the IS strong­hold Mayadeen.

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