- Russian troops are fighting with the Syrian army to recapture city of Deir Ezzor
- Syrian Democratic Forces and US special forces have also moved on the city
- Moscow says its troops have come under fire twice from American positions
- Russia said its soldiers are prepared to return fire if they are threatened
Russia has said its troops are prepared to fire on US positions in Syria if they come under attack by American-backed soldiers ‘again’.
The Kremlin accused US forces of ‘twice’ firing on positions being occupied by the army of Bashar al-Assad, which is fighting alongside Russian special forces to recapture the city of Deir Ezzor from ISIS.
Moscow said the Syrian Democratic Forces, which are being supported by US troops on the ground, opened fire with artillery and mortars, though did not say when.
If this happens again, ‘those areas will be immediately suppressed with all military means’, Russian commander Major-General Igor Konashenkov said.
He added: ‘A representative of the U.S. 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.’
Russia said SDF forces, which are mostly comprised of Kurdish People’s Liberation Army battalions, had split away from fighting around ISIS’s de-facto capital in Raqqa to join the battle in Deir Ezzor.
The Syrian Arab Army, controlled by Assad, is currently fighting along the western shore of the Euphrates river and has pushed into the main city.
Meanwhile the SDF has taken up positions on the opposite bank and are fighting towards the outlying town of Hussainiyah.
Tensions in the region have been rising as the two armies push toward each-other, bringing two world superpowers ever closer to direct conflict.
Both President Trump and President Putin have insisted that their only goal in Syria is to eliminate ISIS, but that has not stopped the pair butting heads.
The most serious incident took place earlier this year when Trump launched 60 cruise missiles at Shayrat Airbase, which is controlled by Assad and had Russian troops stationed there at the time.
The move was retaliation for a gas attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun which the UN has said was perpetrated by the Assad regime.
Earlier this week the Russian Defence Ministry accused U.S. spies of initiating a jihadi offensive against government-held parts of north-west Syria.
The ministry said 29 Russian military policemen had been surrounded by jihadis as a result and that Russia had been forced to break them out.
‘According to our information, U.S. intelligence services initiated the offensive to halt the successful advance of government troops to the east of Deir Ezzor,’ said Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoi.
The Syrian army, backed by Russian war planes, has captured about 100 km (160 miles) of the west bank of the Euphrates this month, reaching the Raqqa provincial border on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
Syrian troops also crossed to the eastern side of the river on Monday where the SDF has been advancing.
The convergence of the rival offensives has increased tensions in Deir al-Zor.
The U.S.-backed militia said on Saturday they had come under attack from Russian jets and Syrian government forces, something Moscow denied.
On Monday, the SDF warned against any further Syrian army advances on the eastern riverbank, and Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday that the waters of the Euphrates had risen as soon as the Syrian army began crossing it, suggesting this could only have happened if upstream dams held by the U.S.-backed opposition had been opened. (Click to Site)