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Russia refutes Pentagon, says it gave US advanced notice of Deir Ez-Zor airstrike

Russia refutes Pentagon, says it gave US advanced notice of Deir Ez-Zor airstrike

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The command of the Russian forces involved in anti-terrorist operations in Syria informed the United States in advance about the territory near the city of Deir ez-Zor, where they intended to carry out a military operation, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Sunday.

On Saturday, the US-led coalition fighting against the Islamic State terrorist group (IS, outlawed in Russia) in Syria accused Russia of hitting Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near Deir ez-Zor.

“To avoid unnecessary escalation, the command of the Russian forces in Syria gave the US partners an advance notice, through an existing communications channel, on the [territorial] borders within which the military operation in Deir ez-Zor would be conducted,” Konashenkov said.

The spokesman stressed that the Russian Aerospace Forces conduct only precision strikes at the territories controlled by the IS, based on reconnaissance information that is usually verified through several channels.

According to Konashenkov, the operation targets terrorists’ positions on both banks of the Euphrates river.

“The priority targets for destruction are the terrorists’ firing positions from which they are leading large-scale attacks on the Syrian forces,” the spokesman said.

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According to Konashenkov, the Russian intelligence services had discovered no clashes between IS fighters and any armed representatives of “third parties” on the eastern bank of the Euphrates in the last few days.

The spokesman stressed that, in these circumstances, “only representatives of the international coalition themselves” could say how opposition members or coalition allies could make their way into the midst of IS troops without any fighting.

In early September, the Syrian armed forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, broke the siege of Deir ez-Zor, which IS held for three years.

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