US-Backed Kurds Say Russian Warplanes Attacked Them in Eastern Syria

Russian General Denies Incident, Says No Strikes Took Place

The Kurdish YPG has claimed a Monday incident in which Russian warplanes attacked one of their military positions in Syria’s eastern Deir Ezzor Province. They claimed a fighter was killed and two wounded.

This isn’t the first time the YPG has made such a claim, and as with the past, Russia issued a statement denying that any such incident took place, with Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov saying that Russia is “always careful” to ensure their strikes don’t hit anyone but their intended targets. The US said they couldn’t confirm the incident either, though they said some “rounds” had hit the area.

This is a growing concern in Deir Ezzor, however, because the YPG and Syrian military have both advanced into the ISIS-held province, trying to carve out territory of their own. The US and Russia have had recent meetings trying to improve information sharing to prevent accidental attacks.

There’s more than just danger of accidents, however. Russia accused the Kurds of twice shooting at them in Deir Ezzor, including once from a position which included US troops. Russia threatened retaliation, and tensions remain high.

It makes it hard to know, then, whether the incident did or didn’t happen, as exchanges of fire followed by blanket denials have become the norm in eastern Syria.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.