Russia fired Kh-101 cruise missiles at ISIS positions in Deir ez-Zor. Photo: Russian Ministry of Defense video screengrab
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Russia has fired cruise missiles at ISIS targets in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor and Idlib provinces, the Russian military reported on Tuesday, a day after US-backed forces in eastern Syria accused Russia of bombarding their positions at a gas field, killing one fighter.
Kh-101 cruise missile strikes “eliminated command posts, hardware and manpower concentration areas as well as ammunition depots,” Russia’s Ministry of Defence stated.
The strikes in Deir ez-Zor were carried out to assist the Syrian army and hit targets north or Deir ez-Zor city that were at a “safe distance” from US special forces and SDF positions in the area, the ministry added.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Monday that Russia bombed their positions at Conoco (Koniko) gas field northeast of Deir ez-Zor, killing one fighter and wounding two others. The SDF announced they had taken the gas field, Syria’s largest, Saturday morning.
The “treacherous attack” also caused material damage to the gas field’s infrastructure, the SDF stated on Monday. Such an attack “serves only terrorism,” the statement added.
Russia denied striking the SDF positions. The Defence Ministry stated it is “delivering pinpoint strikes” against ISIS based on confirmed intelligence in support of a Syrian army operation.
The SDF said it returned ground fire on Monday, and “hit them directly on the banks of the Euphrates River east of Deir ez-Zor.”
This is not the first incident between the US-backed SDF and Russia and its Syrian allies in Deir ez-Zor. On September 16, a number of SDF fighters were injured by Russian munitions, the coalition stated. Russia has said Syrian government forces have come under fire at least twice from areas where the SDF are deployed.
The SDF has continued to advance eastward, reaching al-Suwar on the banks of the Khabur River, where they are engaged in violent clashes with ISIS militants, local media ANHA news reported on Tuesday.
A Russian general was killed by ISIS mortars in Deir ez-Zor. The Defence Ministry confirmed the death of Lt. Gen. Valery Asapov on Sunday. State-run Tass news reported his death was a result of ISIS shelling.