Russia says its forces will target U.S.-backed fighters in Syria if attacked

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Russian officials have informed the Trump administration that Moscow’s forces in Syria would target U.S.-backed fighters in Syria if they are attacked again, something the Russian Defense Ministry says has already happened two times.

The warning came in reference to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias fighting on the side of a U.S.-led coalition that seeks to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russia, meanwhile, backs the Syrian regime.

The defense ministry said that the SDF recently diverted from the battle to retake Raqqa to Deir al-Zor, where Russian special forces troops are assisting Syrian government forces expel Islamic State fighters, which is nearly complete.

SDF fighters were taking up positions on the eastern banks of the Euphrates River alongside U.S. special forces. Russian officials say they have twice opened fire using mortars and artillery to target Syrian troops who are operating alongside Russian special forces.

“A representative of the U.S. military command in Al Udeid (the U.S. operations center in Qatar) was told in no uncertain terms that any attempts to open fire from areas where SDF fighters are located would be quickly shut down,” Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

“Fire points in those areas will be immediately suppressed with all military means.”

The SDF, meanwhile, has warned the Syrian army against making any further advances in the area.

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