The US continues to see “unsafe and unprofessional air activity” from the Russians in Syria, a top US military general says.
“We continue to see unsafe and unprofessional air activity from the Russians,” Maj. Gen. Matthew McFarlane told reporters during a phone call to discuss the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
McFarlane, who leads the coalition against ISIS, said the US military uses a deconfliction hotline with the Russians to mitigate any increased risks due to Russia’s disruptive activities.
But he said the anti-ISIS coalition remains committed and focused on the mission, ensuring that “we can do that uninhibited by different players on the battlefield that seek to frustrate us possibly.”
The US general commended the progress made in the fight against ISIS, which he said had been militarily defeated and hold no territory. Their ideology remains “unconstrained,” and the terrorist group seeks to reconstitute and resume their attacks in the region and around the world. “But thanks to [our efforts and coalition partners], we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in ISIS activity and effectiveness across our area of operations,” he said.
Washington has partnered with the Syrian Democratic Forces, who have lost thousands of fighters in the fight against ISIS, to counter the extremist group. Turkey, a key NATO ally, has been frustrated with this partnership and repeatedly attacked the US-backed fighters.
Turkish forces have also bombed Kurdish targets in Syria and Iraq, attributing these attacks to a necessary response to a November bomb attack in Istanbul. Turkey blamed a Kurdish militia for carrying out the attack, which the Kurds vehemently denied.
And earlier this month, Turkey reportedly was behind an attack on a convoy with a leading Kurdish official, accompanied by US personnel. No one was injured.
Al Arabiya English asked a senior Pentagon official about the attack, but the official said investigations were still underway.
Nevertheless, the official reiterated US commitment and support for the Kurdish forces in the fight against ISIS.
Turkey has repeatedly threatened to launch a land operation into Syria against Kurdish forces.
“We oppose any action that would introduce risk to the [Syrian Democratic Forces] or to our counter-ISIS mission,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Dana Stroul said in the same phone call.
“This would not only affect the security and safety of our personnel and of the Syrian Democratic Forces, but also the security and stability of the region, and all of those who have benefited from the hard-won achievements of this coalition in ousting ISIS from the caliphate that it once had across Iraq and Syria,” Stroul added.
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