US and Russian Military Officials Hold Talks on Syria
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)
A same day article explained Russia warned Washington, saying its "forces will strike immediately US-backed forces if they attack or shell Syrian or Russian task forces operating near the Deir Ezzor city…using all means of destruction."
The statement came in response to US-supported terrorists attacking government positions at least twice in Deir Ezzor with mortar and rocket fire.
Against this backdrop, AP News reported "(s)enior American and Russian military leaders met for an unprecedented, face-to-face session somewhere in the Middle East this week to discuss the growing tensions in the competing battles to retake one of the remaining Islamic State strongholds in Syria."
On numerous occasions, Russia expressed firm support for Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity, ruling out partition, including saying de-escalation zones won't be permitted for this purpose.
Washington has other ideas, the reason for the "unprecedented" meeting. Government and allied forces, along with US-backed terrorists are battling to control Deir Ezzor's oil-rich province - Damascus with Russian help wanting it freed entirely from ISIS and US control.
The unannounced US/Russia meeting aimed to prevent both sides clashing in the race to control the province.
According to AP, "Army Col. Ryan Dillon told Pentagon reporters on Thursday that US and Russian general officers shared maps, graphics and information about where their forces are battling around Deir Ezzor."
"He would not provide details on when or where the meeting occurred, beyond saying it took place in recent days somewhere in the region." More talks may follow.
Last year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) prohibits US military-to-military cooperation with Moscow unless it hands over its Crimea province to Kiev (never) and ceases its nonexistent "occupation" and "aggressive activities" in Ukraine.
Defense Secretary Mattis said the Defense Department deals with Russia "collaborative(ly)." Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said military-to-military contacts don't constitute "cooperation," adding:
"There are currently no plans to engage in these kinds of activities in the future." Both sides communicate in Syria to prevent clashes with each other.
Russian special forces are deployed with Syrian troops. If attacked again by US-backed terrorists (Pentagon troops embedded in their ranks), Moscow intends forceful retaliation, clearly explained in the above quote.
Meeting in New York with Sergey Lavrov, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem accused Washington of using al-Nusra terrorists to obstruct Astana peace talks, adding:
"The Americans have not changed their approach so far. In Deir Ezzor, they attempt to impede our army's advances against ISIS."
Separately, Lavrov warned Washington that attempts to obstruct counterterrorism operations in Syria "will not be left without reaction."
Nor will partition be allowed. Russia backs the right of Syrians alone to determine their future, including the country's leadership - with no foreign interference, a clear reference to Washington wanting regime change.
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