Moscow denies strikes on US-backed rebels in Syria

June 19, 2016  

Russia’s defense ministry on Sunday denied bombing US-backed rebels in southern Syria earlier this week. ‘

In a video conference with Russian military officials, the Pentagon said Saturday that it had expressed “strong concerns about the attack on the coalition-supported counter-ISIL forces at the Al-Tanaf garrison.”

Hours later Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov denied that Russia had bombed areas where US-backed rebels are operating.

“The target that was bombed was located more than 300 kilometers away from the area” indicated by the United States, he said.  

Konashenkov insisted that the Russian air force had acted “within the framework of the agreed procedures” and had given advance warning of its ground targets to the US-led coalition.

Russia’s defense ministry said late Thursday that it had not carried out strikes against opposition forces included in the ceasefire but did not mention Al-Tanaf.

The Pentagon voiced its concerns as Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu paid a surprise visit to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus to discuss military cooperation “to fight against terrorist organisations on Syrian soil.”

Konashenkov on Sunday also accused the United States of not providing the coordinates of the areas where the US-backed rebels are active, “not allowing for precision in the operations of the Russian air force.”

AFP contributed this report.

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