Thu, Oct 05, 2017 - Page 6 News List

US-led forces accused of ‘bloody provocations’

AFP, RIYADH

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov accused US-led forces of carrying out “bloody provocations” against Russian troops in Syria in an interview published by the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat yesterday.

“The activities of US-led forces raise many questions... In some cases, these forces have indirectly encouraged other terrorists to attack strategic positions rightfully regained by Damascus, or they have deliberately engaged in bloody provocations against our forces,” Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister appeared to be referring to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which the US-led coalition is backing in a drive against Islamic State group militants in eastern Syria, mainly in the city of Raqqa.

Russia last month accused the SDF of trying to sabotage a separate offensive by its ally, the Syrian military, against Islamic State group militants around the city of Deir Ezzor, where Russia lost one of its own generals late last month.

To prevent the two operations from clashing, the coalition, the SDF, the Syrian government and Russia have agreed on a “de-confliction line” in northeast Syria, though the US-led coalition has since accused Russian aviation of bombing its SDF allies.

“Today all actors must abandon their geopolitical ambitions and contribute fully to the restoration of stability and security of Syria and throughout the Middle East and North Africa,” Lavrov told Asharq al-Awsat, calling for a lifting of sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to help Syria’s recovery.

Last month the SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, accused Russia of killing one of its fighters and wounding others in strikes on a gas facility it captured two days earlier from the Islamic State group in eastern Syria.

The alleged bombardment was the second time the SDF has accused Russia and the regime of hitting its fighters.

A week before the group said six of its fighters were wounded in airstrikes by regime and Russian warplanes in the al-Sinaaiya area about 7km from the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

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