Tensions between US and Russian officials over ongoing fighting in eastern Syria continue to mount. On Wednesday, Russia’s Defense Ministry issued a statement complaining that the US has been supporting ISIS in the area, and threatening retaliation.
Such accusations are common on all sides of the war. Russia’s Majr. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, however, noted that a number of recent ISIS attacks have come from sites very close to US positions, and relied on “precise coordinates” that they could’ve only gotten from US aerial reconnaissance.
Maj. Gen. Konashenkov was very frank about the possibility of retaliation, saying the US keeps presenting these incidents as “coincidences,” but that “the Russian air force in Syria is prepared to begin the complete destruction of all such coincidences.”
ISIS has released a video claiming to have captured a pair of Russian troops, though Russia denies that this is the case. ISIS has, however, launched some very successful counterattacks against Russian and Syrian forces in Deir Ezzor recently.
Scapegoating one another is common, but the fact that the ISIS strikes are emanating from near the US base at al-Tanf is a potentially complicating issue. The US made much of ordering other rebels out of the vicinity of al-Tanf, and across the Jordanian border, in recent weeks, but it was never reported that US forces withdrew.