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US, Kurdish allies virtually in open confrontation with Syrian army, says Russian diplomat

February 15, 2018, 16:25 UTC+3

The US military continues to occupy a 55-kilometer area near Al-Tanf, the Russian diplomat noted

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© AP Photo/Hussein Malla

MOSCOW, February 15. /TASS/. The US and its Kurdish allies have come close to an open confrontation with the Syrian armed forces, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

"The US military continues to occupy a 55-kilometer area near Al-Tanf, which has become a shelter zone for the remaining members of ISIL [the former name of the Islamic State terror group outlawed in Russia]," she said. "The Americans conducted defiant actions on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, where they came close to an open confrontation with the Syrian army seeking to support their Kurdish allies," Zakharova added.

She pointed out that "the Americans have been provoking Turkey, sending arms convoys for the Kurds through its territory." "In return, Turkey continues its Operation Olive Branch against the Kurds in the Afrin area. The fighting is fierce," the Russian diplomat noted. According to her, "terrorists from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group continue aggressive provocations in the western part of the Eastern Ghouta de-escalation zone, particularly shelling Damascus and killing civilians," she added.

Turkish officials have many times stated that the delivery of weapons to the Syrian Kurds is one of the key reasons for deteriorating relations between Ankara and Washington. Turkey says that the United States is making a mistake delivering weapons to the People's Protection Units (YPG) as it believes they are linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), designated as a terrorist organization by Ankara. Turkish authorities say that the weapons provided by the US may be used against Turkey.

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