ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed, Kurdish-led forces battling the Islamic State (IS) in Syria on Monday said Russian warplanes targeted their fighters in Deir al-Zor Province, eastern Syria.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab forces, said a Russian air raid struck their positions in Deir al-Zor near a major gas field they recently captured from IS.
On Saturday, the SDF announced they had seized the largest natural gas field in Syria from the extremist group.
The Conoco gas field, as well as the plant, is now under the control of SDF fighters.
According to Lilwa Abdallah, a spokesperson for the SDF, the Russian airstrikes wounded at least six of their forces.
“Russian airstrikes and mortar fire hit the Conoco gas plant where a large number of our forces are stationed,” Abdallah told AFP.
Meanwhile, in an official statement, the SDF said it had the right to respond to military provocations.
“We will not stand by with our arms crossed, and we will use our legitimate right to self-defense,” the statement read.
While SDF fighters continue to advance on the east bank of the Euphrates River in Deir al-Zor, Russian-backed Syrian troops are gaining areas on the west bank of the river.
A “de-confliction” zone was imposed to prevent the two forces from clashing as they advance in their respective campaigns, but Monday’s incident is the second time the SDF has accused Russia of targeting its troops.
Earlier this month, the US-backed forces said their fighters were wounded by Russian and Syrian airstrikes on their positions in the countryside of Deir al-Zor.
The SDF immediately condemned the assault on their forces and called on the attackers to “stop such actions that only serve IS militants.”
Russia has been Syria’s main ally, joining the war two years ago, and has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his fight against rebel and Islamist forces.
Editing by G.H. Renaud