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Issue #1810      February 14, 2018

US protects ISIS

Syria and Russia last week accused the US of protecting ISIS after its bombing of government-allied militia. The US bombing coalition claimed that the militia had staged an “unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) headquarters” in Deir Ezzor province.

It claimed US troops were at the headquarters five miles east of the River Euphrates, located in a large oilfield. Unlike Russian forces, the US has not been authorised by Syria’s government to deploy troops in the country.

The coalition said its air strikers were in self-defence.

Syria’s official Sana news agency reported that those targeted were local volunteer militia fighting Isis and other insurgents, dubbing the raid “an attempt to support terrorism.” Sana said the US hit 10 positions between Khusham and al-Tabiyah, in government-controlled territory just east of Deir Ezzor city, causing heavy damage and killing scores of people.

Russia’s military said 25 fighters had been injured by US artillery and helicopter fire.

The Russian Defence Ministry said the raid “again showed that the US is maintaining its illegal presence in Syria not to fight the Islamic State group, but to seize and hold Syrian economic assets.”

The Syrian army reported that it had retaken parts of ISIS-held territory in north-east Hama province.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Ministry claimed that the US coalition’s 35-mile exclusion zone in southern Syria, occupied by groups using the Free Syrian Army (FSA) name, “is being used by the scattered units of ISIS” as a refuge.

And Britain’s Independent newspaper reported that the FSA militia groups supporting Turkey’s invasion of Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria were in fact made up by former ISIS fighters.

Patrick Cockburn quoted a local source named as “Faraj” as saying: “Most of those who are fighting in Afrin against the YPG [Kurdish militia] are ISIS, though Turkey has trained them to change their assault tactics.”

Turkey’s dual justification for invading Afrin province was to prevent Kurdish forces from controlling the border and to supposedly attack ISIS, though it is absent from the region.

Morning Star

Next article – US pressures Games of peace

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