U.S.-backed Forces Say Struck by Russian Warplanes in Eastern Syria

The alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias say the strike was near a major natural gas field they captured from ISIS

Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces after arresting a wounded man during their fighting with Islamic State in Deir al-Zor, Syria, September 24, 2017.
RODI SAID/REUTERS

U.S.-backed Syrian militias said Russian warplanes struck their positions in Deir al-Zor province on Monday, near a major natural gas field they seized from Islamic State in recent days. 

The Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, has been fighting Islamic State on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river with U.S.-led jets and special forces. The SDF on one hand, and Syrian troops with Russian air power on the other, have converged on Islamic State in separate offensives in Deir al-Zor. 

Spokesman Mustafa Bali said the attack on Monday "by land and air" had wounded SDF fighters. 

The report comes a day after Russia's Defense Ministry said a top general had been killed in the battle for Deir al-Zor. The ministry said that Lt. Gen. Valery Asapov "was at a command post of Syrian troops, assisting the Syrian commanders in the operation for the liberation of the city of Deir al-Zor."

State news agency Tass reported that "as a result of a mortar shelling by the ISIS (Islamic State group), Asapov was mortally wounded."

Asapov, RT reported, was described as one of the senior Russian military advisers in Syria. According to the Russian report, Asapov is the highest-ranking Russian military officer to be killed in Syria.