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Russians Warn U.S.: If SDF Attacks Syrian Army We Will Suppress It

Sept. 21, 2017 (EIRNS)—Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, has charged that the U.S. is behind the recent moves of the (largely Kurdish) Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against the Syrian army in Deir Ezzor.

"The Syrian government troops have been shelled twice from the areas on the western bank of the Euphrates controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces and the US military,"

he told reporters at the Defense Ministry yesterday. He further charged that the U.S. military facilitated the movement of SDF units out of Raqqa to Deir Ezzor, a distance of about 140 km.

Konashenkov said that the U.S. has been warned, through the deconfliction line to the U.S. military headquarters in Qatar, that any further attacks by the SDF will be suppressed. "Firing points in these areas will be immediately suppressed by all means of destruction," he said.

The U.S. military has claimed repeatedly that its only interest in eastern Syria is the defeat and destruction of ISIS. However, the SDF, the Kurdish-dominated militia that the U.S. military created and has supported as the only "viable" force to fight ISIS, seems to have other ideas. Since the Syrian army broke the ISIS siege on the city of Deir Ezzor on Sept. 5, the SDF has moved part of its force down the Euphrates River to the north side of the city, even though its campaign to take Raqqa from ISIS has not yet been completed. Col. Ryan Dillon, the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, told National Public Radio (NPR) yesterday that the U.S. is not interested in grabbling land from the Assad government, and that such questions should be decided after ISIS is defeated. Yet the same NPR report claims that the SDF decision to move on Deir Ezzor was endorsed by the U.S. military.

Furthermore, the spokesman of the so-called Deir Ezzor Military Council, which is part of the SDF, who goes by the pseudonym Ahmed Abu Khawla, has been quoted repeatedly in the media for the past week or so, declaring that the SDF would not allow the Syrian army to cross to the east side of the Euphrates. "We want to defeat ISIS, and then liberate not only the oil fields but all the land, factories and people" and put the province back in the hands of "its rightful owners," he said. NPR notes in passing that Abu Khawla fought against the Syrian government in the civil war before the rise of ISIS. It appears that he wants to resume that battle even before ISIS is fully defeated.