International

U.S.-backed forces ‘hit by regime strikes’

A Russian military officer in Hama, Syria.

A Russian military officer in Hama, Syria.   | Photo Credit: Nataliya Vasilyeva

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6 fighters injured, says Syrian group

A U.S.-backed force battling the Islamic State (IS) group in eastern Syria accused regime and Russian war planes on Saturday of bombing its fighters.

It marked the first time the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, have said they have been hit by Russia.

The SDF and Russian-backed Syrian government forces are conducting parallel but separate offensives against IS in the strategic and oil-rich eastern Province of Deir Ezzor.

Regime troops are waging an assault for the provincial capital, Deir Ezzor city, while SDF fighters battle the jihadists further east across the Euphrates River.

“At 3:30 am (0030 GMT) on September 16, 2017, our forces east of the Euphrates River were targeted by Russian and Syrian regime war planes in the Al-Sinaaiya area,” the SDF said.

It said six of its fighters were wounded.

Al-Sinaaiya is an industrial area northeast of the city of Deir Ezzor, about seven km (four miles) from the east bank of the Euphrates.

“At a time when the SDF’s brave forces are scoring great victories against IS in Raqqa and Deir Ezzor... some parties are trying to create obstacles to our progress,” the statement said.

Parallel battles

The SDF’s assaults against the IS in Deir Ezzor and in Raqqa further up the Euphrates Valley are both backed by the U.S.-led coalition, while regime troops are getting air cover from Russia.

SDF fighters say they not coordinating their Deir Ezzor operations with the government or Russia.

But the coalition says there is a de-confliction line to prevent the two offensives from clashing.

The line agreed between Russia, the regime, the SDF and the coalition runs from Raqqa Province southeast along the Euphrates River to Deir Ezzor.

The skies over Syria have become increasingly congested as the six-year conflict has dragged on, with war planes from the coalition, the Syrian government and Russia all carrying out air strikes.

Confrontations between the war planes have been rare, but in June a U.S. fighter jet shot down a Syrian war plane accused of bombing SDF units in the country's north.

The IS, which in 2014 overran swathes of territory across Syria, is seeing its zones of control dwindle even as it claims responsibility for bloody attacks abroad.

The group has been pushed out of two-thirds of its former bastion Raqqa by the SDF.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 7:54:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-backed-forces-hit-by-regime-strikes/article19699594.ece

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