US officials have provided details of Russian bombing of American-supported fighters near the Jordanian and Iraqi borders.On Thursday the Russian Su-24s attacked the New Syrian Army, formed last year with US backing to fight the Islamic State.The American officials said the strikes, about six miles from Jordan, killed some fighters. They said 500-pound bombs and possibly cluster munitions were dropped.
US FA-18 warplanes were diverted to the area after the first of the two Russian strikes. They called the Russians on an agreed channel but did not receive an answer. As soon as the US jets left the area to refuel, the Russians came back for another round of bombing.
A “senior defense official” assured that the New Syria Army was confronting the Islamic State near al-Tanf and that “there were no Syrian regime or Russian ground forces in the vicinity”. He said:
Russia’s latest actions raise serious concern about Russian intentions. We will seek an explanation from Russia on why it took this action and assurances this will not happen again.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the incidents raised questions about whether the Russians had intervened in Syria to fight extremists: Here’s a case where they actually attacked forces that were fighting ISIL -the Islamic State]. And if that was their intention, that’s the opposite of what they said they were going to do. If not, then it says something about the quality of the information upon which they make airstrikes. www.mesop.de