: Russia strikes U.S.-backed rebels in Syria

10:26 Jun. 17, 2016

Russia strikes U.S.-backed rebels in Syria

Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su 30 fighter jets during a rehearsal for a 9 May parade at Hmeimim airbase in Syria (GettyImages Photo)

Washington wants answers from Moscow, according to a U.S. official 

Russia carried out air strikes on Thursday in southern Syria against rebels battling Islamic State, including forces backed by the United States, a senior U.S. defence official said, adding Washington would raise the matter with Moscow, according to Reuters. 

Read also: Russian airbase allegedly destroyed in Syria - Stratfor

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, strongly criticized the Russian strikes near al-Tanf, noting that no Russia or Syrian ground forces were in the area at the time - effectively ruling out an argument of self-defense.

"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.‎"the official said.

Washington has consistently refused to join forces with Russia in Syria against Islamic State ever since Moscow launched its campaign of air strikes in September last year, accusing it of acting solely to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Read also: Russian Embassy in the U.K. makes an embarrassing Twitter mistake over Syria

The United States has called on Assad to step down.

Communication between the U.S. and Russian militaries on Syria has been limited to contacts aimed at avoiding an accidental clash as they carry out rival bombing campaigns and small numbers of U.S. forces operate on the ground.

 

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