Moscow, Jun 16: Russia on Thursday accused the US-led coalition of deploying missiles against Syrian troops at a garrison in the east of the country, where opposition fighters battling Daesh are being trained.
In a statement, the Defense Ministry said the “United States has moved two HIMARS multiple rocket launchers from Jordan to Al-Tanf US special forces base.” That suggested that the equipment would be used for strikes against Syrian regime forces, the statement added.
“Deploying any type of foreign weapons on Syrian territory... must be approved by the government of the sovereign country,” it said.
“Forces of the US-led anti-IS (Daesh) coalition have repeatedly issued strikes on Syrian government forces fighting IS near the Jordanian border.
“It’s not hard to guess that similar strikes will be continued against contingents of the Syrian Army in the future using HIMARS,” it said.
In Washington, a US Defense Department confirmed the deployment of the HIMARS system to the base, but did not say how many.
The HIMARS system, mounted on a lorry, fires GPS-guided rockets with a range of 70 km.
Meanwhile, as Daesh militants take a pounding in their eroding Iraqi and Syrian strongholds, its leaders have set up a new headquarters in Syria away from the front lines, where they are digging in and likely planning more attacks against the West. The militants’ relocation could extend Daesh’s ability to wreak havoc in the region and beyond for months to come.
US officials and Syrian activists say many commanders have fled the besieged cities of Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria, in recent months for Mayadeen, a remote town in the heart of Syria’s Daesh-controlled, Euphrates River valley near the Iraqi border.
In another development, airstrikes hit opposition-held districts east of Damascus on Thursday for the first time in weeks after shells landed in parts of the capital controlled by the Syrian regime, a Reuters witness and a war monitor said.
Fighting and bombardment around Damascus have eased significantly since Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed a deal for “de-escalation zones” around Syria in an April meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Separately, thousands of refugees, carrying suitcases, shopping bags and toddlers, walked back home into Syria from Turkey on Thursday ahead of the Eid festival. Some said they wanted to start again in their homeland, and would return within the month if it did not work out, while others said they wanted to return to Syria for good, citing the difficulty of finding employment in Turkey.
“One day you can find a job, the other day you can’t,” said Sevsen Um Mustafa as she walked toward the border crossing with two daughters in tow. “Sometimes they make you work but they don’t pay. Even if they do, it’s not enough."
Moscow accuses Washington of deploying missiles in Syria