The Pentagon has confirmed to Newsweek that the Russian military conducted its second known strike in two months near a U.S. base in Syria, as multiple rival powers in the divided nation ramp up efforts to push competing agendas.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced Friday that, while patrolling the skies of Syria, “the Russian Aerospace Forces identified and destroyed a group of militants of the terrorist group ‘Liwa Shuhada al-Qaryatayn'” as they hid in shelters located in the Syrian desert in a strike conducted the previous day.
“This terrorist group is based in the Al-Tanf zone, supplied and trained by instructors from the US Army Special Operations Forces,” the Russian Defense Ministry said. “Operating from the desert, the Liwa Shuhada al-Qaryatayn militants carried out acts of sabotage against the civilian population and civilian infrastructure in Syria.”
The ministry said that “all militants were successfully destroyed” in the operation.
Liwa Shuhada al-Qaryatayn was once part of a network of rebel groups that received direct support from the United States, which first backed insurgents against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and then the Islamic State militant group ( ISIS ).
However, the U.S.-led coalition against the jihadis announced in 2017 that it would cut support for Liwa Shuhada al-Qaryatayn, and local outlets reported the following year the group was relocating to opposition-held areas in the north.
Reached for comment, the spokesperson for U.S. Central Command told Newsweek that “CENTCOM is aware of the strike, but does not have information to provide to you on this.”
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