Russian Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters fire missiles during the International Army Games 2021. 27 August, 2021. (Photo credit: REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo)
Pentagon officials are alarmed that Russia’s military cooperation with the Syrian government could escalate into an “unintended conflict” with US occupation forces, according to sources who spoke with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
Their concern allegedly grew after Moscow’s forces conducted airstrikes on positions held by a CIA-trained armed group inside the US-occupied Al-Tanf base in southern Syria.
The Kremlin warned Washington before launching the attack on 15 June, using a communications line set up years ago. This allowed the Pentagon to alert the fighters to move their positions.
Soon after, three Russian fighter jets were observed flying over Al-Tanf before launching the airstrikes.
The airstrikes came in response to a roadside bomb attack that the Maghawir al-Thawra (MaT) armed group carried out against Russian troops. It also marked the first time that Russian forces had attacked a US-occupied military base in Syria.
A US official who spoke with the WSJ described the Russian airstrike on Al-Tanf as a “significant increase in provocation.”
Earlier in the week, the Kremlin reportedly deployed two fighter jets to an area in northeast Syria where US occupation troops were allegedly conducting a raid to apprehend an ISIS bomb maker.
Pentagon officials claim Moscow pulled back its planes after the US scrambled its own fighter jets.
“We seek to avoid miscalculation or a set of actions that could lead to unnecessary conflict … However, Russia’s recent behavior has been provocative and escalatory,” US Army General Erik Kurilla, the head of US Central Command, said in a statement.
Al-Tanf base is one of the most strategic military garrisons for the US occupation in Syria. In addition to housing hundreds of troops, the base is also used to train armed groups waging war against the government of Syria.
Over recent months, Moscow has intensified its military cooperation with Damascus in an effort to help authorities regain full control of the country.
Russian troops have been present in Syria since 2015, when Moscow entered the fray at the official request of the government in Damascus, helping push back against ISIS and other armed groups running rampant in the country.
On the other hand, Washington justifies its illegal occupation of Syria’s oil-rich regions as a means to stop ISIS from getting their hands on the resources.