The Syrian Army was on its way across the Euphrates river to liberate the oil- and gas-fields east of Deir Ezzor city. The US countered the move. It sent a small forces of Arab tribal mercenaries who were earlier allied with the Islamic State (ISIS). These proxy forces came from a northern direction and moved through Islamic State held areas without fighting and casualties up to the walls of Deir Ezzor city.
The Syrian army was about to win the race when it started to cross the Euphrates. But it suddenly was surprised by a large al-Qaeda attack in southern Idleb province. That area had been quiet for months. 29 Russian troops who were supervising a deescalation zone there were nearly encircled by al-Qaeda forces. They only escape after an emergency relief operation had cut through al-Qaeda lines. The Russian Ministry of Defense accused the US of having communicated the position of the Russian platoon to al-Qaeda.
Shortly thereafter a Russian general, visiting Deir Ezzor city to supervise the Euphrates bridge crossing, came under extremely well aimed mortar fire by the Islamic State. The general and two other high ranking officers were killed. During years of fighting around Deir Ezzor ISIS had never shown the capability for such a precise strike. Someone must have communicated with the terrorists and transferred the exact position of the local headquarter, as well as the time of the Russian general's visit.
A week later a concentrated ISIS attack on the main supply road between Palmyra and Deir Ezzor was attacked by a large number of ISIS forces. It is trying to retake al-Suknah in the middle between the two cities. The Russian Defense Ministry claims that the attacking ISIS forces came from southern areas of al-Tanf near the Jordan border which are under control of US forces. Should ISIS take al-Suknah the Syrian-Russian contingent in Deir Ezzor would gain be cutoff.
Due to those three attacks the Syrian-Russian move towards the eastern oil-fields came to a near standstill. US proxy forces are now slowly taking the area.
It seems obvious that the US military is again cooperating with terrorist groups in Syria. There must be at least some information flow between US intelligence and al-Qaeda and ISIS. It seems that deconflicition data the Syrian-Russian alliance is sharing with US forces in Syria is ending up in the hands of the extremists. This explains how al-Qaeda and ISIS can suddenly and very precisely attack critical Syrian and Russian positions which are known to only very few people.
The Russian have protested several times and had warned the US not to continue with their nefarious scheming. The third severe warning came yesterday with statements by the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and direct accusation against the US military by the spokesman of the Russian Defense Ministry.
In an interview with the semi-official Saudi paper Asharq al-Awsat Foreign Minister Lavrov was extraordinary frank (the full interview was covered only in the Arabic edition). Interfax recapitulates:
'The US-led forces' activities in Syria cause many questions. In some cases these forces mount allegedly accidental strikes against the Syrian Armed Forces, after which the Islamic State counterattacks, in other cases they inspire other terrorists to attack strategic locations over which official Damascus has restored its legitimate authority, or stage fatal provocations against our military personnel. I would also mention numerous "accidental" strikes against civilian infrastructure that have taken hundreds of civilian lives,' Lavrov said in an interview with the Asharq Al-Awsat pan-Arab newspaper ahead of the Russian visit of Saudi King Salman al-Saud.These accusations, from a very high level of the Russian Federation hierarchy, should not be ignored. But the "western" media were silent over Lavrov's accusations. Only AFP picked up some bits but missed the central point.
The Russian Defense Ministry was even more direct:
A spokesman for Russia's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that a series of attacks launched by Islamic State in Syria on government forces had come from an area near the border with Jordan where a US military mission was located.Konashenkov accused the US of "flirtation" with the terrorists and warned that, should similar happen again, Russia will take severe countermeasures.
The spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said in a statement the attackers had the precise coordinates of the Syrian government forces, which could only have been obtained through aerial reconnaissance.
While these accusations fly, and the relation between U.S and Russian contingents in Syria further deteriorate, Russian diplomacy is winning the day.
Last week the Russian President Putin visited Turkey. (At about the same time the Egyptian chief of intelligence was also in Ankara. He allegedly met his Turkish colleague. A few days later he visited Damascus.) Yesterday the Saudi King arrived in Moscow for an unprecedented visit. Meanwhile the Turkish president Erdogan touched down in Tehran in an unusual amikal atmosphere.
Instead of reporting on diplomacy and the increasing chances of a military conflict between super powers in Syria, US media asks if Secretary of State Tillerson called President Trump a "moron" or a "f**king moron". (For the record - the NBC journalist who overheard Tillerson's outburst says it was "f**king moron".)
There have now been three significant incidents against the Russian-Syrian alliance in which, according to Russia, US malignancy played a role. Each time Russian officials warned of consequences. To some extend the US hostility is incited by Israeli nagging. But the record shows that CentCom, the US military command in the Middle East, is overtly aggressive and not always following Washington's line. It is high time for the White House to get the situation under control.
The bear is a docile animal. But it should not be provoked. There is reason to believe that the Russian forces and their allies in the Middle East have the ability to surprise the US military with unforeseen and deadly moves.
Should these US provocations continue Moscow will have no choice but to order harsh retaliations.
Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.