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Gerasimov: U.S. Training Former ISIS Fighters at Two Syria Bases

Dec. 27, 2017 (EIRNS)—Senior Russian officials in both the Foreign and Defense Ministries have been putting pressure on the U.S. military to withdraw from Syria for the past few weeks, particularly with the fight against ISIS practically wrapped up in the Euphrates River Valley. Gen. Valeriy Gerasimov, Chief of the Russian General Staff, added his voice to the pressure, today, in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda, in which he accused the U.S. military of training former ISIS fighters in at least two bases in eastern Syria. In effect, Gerasimov is charging that the United States is remaking the remnants of ISIS and redeploying them to hold areas of eastern Syria not under government control.

U.S. military and State Department officials have repeatedly rejected the Russian charges regarding ISIS. While EIR has no independent confirmation of the specific claims made by Gerasimov, it is, indeed, clear that the U.S. military is not turning sovereignty of areas of eastern Syria back to the Syrian government.

Gerasimov said that U.S. forces have effectively turned their military base near the town of al-Tanf in southeastern Syria into a terrorists’ training camp.

"According to satellite and other surveillance data, terrorist squads are stationed there. They are effectively training there," Gerasimov said, when asked about what’s going on at the base, reports RT.

Gerasimov also said the United States has been using a refugee camp in northeast Syria, outside the town of Al-Shaddadah in Al-Hasakah province, as a training camp for the remnants of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group, including those evacuated from Raqqa, and other militants.

"This is essentially ISIS," he said. "They change their colors, take different names—the ‘New Syrian Army’ and others. They are tasked with destabilizing the situation." Some 400 militants left Al-Shaddadah for Al-Tanf, launching an offensive on the Syrian forces from the eastern bank of Euphrates, after the main ISIS forces were routed there, Gerasimov said. At the moment, there are about 750 militants in Al-Shaddadah and 350 in Al-Tanf on the Syrian-Jordanian border, according to Gerasimov, who said the Russian military has been watching the training at the Al-Tanf base for some time.