Home News U.S. pitches plan to Russia to avoid armed conflict in Syria

U.S. pitches plan to Russia to avoid armed conflict in Syria

169
0
SHARE
This photo shows a general view of the Syrian border town of Assal al-Ward that is held by government forces, Syria. Hezbollah fighters have been spearheading an attack along with President Bashar Assad’s troops against Sunni insurgents in Syria’s rugged mountainous region of Qalamoun. (photo: AP)

WASHINGTON – The United States has proposed to Russia a plan for managing an increasingly complex battlefield in Syria’s main oil-producing region, where U.S.-backed forces fighting Islamic extremists are in conflict with Russian-backed Syrian forces.

Gen. Joseph Dunford declined to describe the proposal in detail, but said the Russian military is eager to find ways to avoid an armed U.S.-Russian conflict in the area around Deir el-Zour on the Euphrates River.

The U.S. sees that area, from Deir el-Zour down the Euphrates River Valley to al-Qaim on the Iraqi side of the border, as the next major battleground in the evolving coalition campaign to destroy the Islamic State group.

“We have a proposal that we’re working on with the Russians right now,” Dunford said at a news conference with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. “I won’t share the details, but my sense is that the Russians are as enthusiastic as we are to de-conflict operations and ensure that we continue to take the campaign to and ensure the safety of our personnel.”

Asked whether the proposal to Russia would address the problem of a Syrian army presence in Deir el-Zour, Dunford said, “It will. It will. And we’ve talked about that as a specific area that requires” avoiding U.S.-Russian conflict.

Russia’s support for the Syrian government is a complicating factor in the battle to rid Syria of IS. That was demonstrated on Thursday when the U.S. bombed a contingent of pro-Syrian government forces in southeastern Syria that Mattis said were advancing in a threatening way toward a rebel camp near the Jordanian border where U.S. advisers were present.

Mattis told reporters those forces targeted by airstrikes were “Iranian-directed forces.”

Russia on Friday denounced the U.S. air-strike.

“Whatever the reason for the U.S. strike was, it was illegitimate and marked another flagrant violation of Syria’s sovereignty,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in Cyprus.

If you have any problems viewing this article, please report it here.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here