US Army special units provide free passage for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) through the battle formations of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists, the ministry said in a statement.
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“Facing no resistance of the ISIS militants, the SDF units are advancing along the left shore of the Euphrates towards Deir ez-Zor,” the statement reads.
The newly released images “clearly show that US special ops are stationed at the outposts previously set up by ISIS militants.”
“Despite that the US strongholds being located in the ISIS areas, no screening patrol has been organized at them,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said.
This could mean that the US military staff “feel absolutely safe” in the area which is held by the terrorists, the ministry of defense stated.
Though, the ministry claims to have identified, among others, cars, armored vehicles and tents, it does not provide information on the exact whereabouts of the US troops on the images posted.
All of the images were taken from September 8 to 12. The photos show several Cougar infantry mobility vehicles and Hummer armored vehicles of the US Army special forces, according to the Russian MoD data.
The images released by the Russian Defense Ministry encourage speculation that the US and SDF forces have some sort of “understanding” with IS terrorists operating in the region, according to Ammar Waqqaf, the director of the Gnosos think tank.
“From the footage, the Americans seem to be and the SDF seem to be quite at leisure, they are not expecting any attack any time soon,” Waqqaf told RT. “The reason why this may be the case is that there has been some sort of understandings with ISIS over there. Probably they were given some amnesty, that they are not going to be prosecuted, … or they were given guarantees that they would not be given back to the state.”
If the revelation turns out to be true, this will “add to the long-held suspicions of some that far from being implacably opposed to IS, the US is prepared to co-operate with the terrorist group when it’s seen to be in the interests of the US to do so,” security analyst and former British Army officer Charles Shoebridge commented to RT.
“In this case, securing IS assistance for an unopposed advance of US backed SDF forces could enable the SDF, widely seen as a US proxy, to seize strategically important (and oil rich) territory in Deir ez-Zor that otherwise would soon be retaken by the rapidly advancing Syrian Army. If so, this once again will raise questions as to what the true purpose of US forces – purportedly in Syria to fight IS – actually is.”
Earlier in September, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov accused the SDF of collusion with ISIS terrorists.
“SDF militants work to the same objectives as IS terrorists. Russian drones and intelligence have not recorded any confrontations between IS and the ‘third force,’ the SDF,” Konashenkov said.
The city of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria was besieged by Islamic State in 2014. The Syrian Army, supported by the Russian Air Force, broke a three-year blockade on the city in early September. The city’s liberation enabled convoys to start delivering food, medicine, and other essentials to the city, which previously had to rely on airdrops.
The liberation of Deir ez-Zor triggered a race between Syrian government forces and US-backed SDF militants. Both are holding separate operations in the area and are aiming to control the oil rich Deir ez-Zor province.