DAMASCUS, SYRIA (3:00 PM) – Armed ISIS militants coming from areas under control of US forces and allied rebels have seized and stolen two convoys of medicine and food headed for Syrian settlements, said Russian Defence Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov on Wednesday.
According to the Ministry, no less than 300 armed terrorists came in pick-up trucks from the US-occupied Al Tanf area in southeastern Syria and attempted to block the strategic Damascus-Deir Ezzor highway, one of the main arteries for Syrian military supplies and humanitarian aid to the frontline.
“The question how about 300 ISIS militants using pick-up trucks who tried to block the strategically important Damascus-Deir ez-Zor highway, through which supplies for Syrian troops are brought and humanitarian aid for the population is delivered, penetrated into the US-controlled area in Al Tanf remains unanswered,” Konashenkov stressed.
“We offer the American side to clarify another instance of turning a blind eye to the activities of militants operating under their very noses. It is purely for military ethics reasons that we do not publish the latest photos of the US base in Al Tanf with an abundance of pick-up trucks with heavy machine guns and recoilless guns that are not typical of the US army.”
According to General Konashenkov, not only have terrorists been reported to be freely residing within US-controlled Al Tanf, but they have even been allowed to move around freely towards other rebel-held areas of Syria.
“From October 2 to 3, about 600 militants stationed at the Rukban refugee camp in the US-controlled Al Tanf area have departed westward in an orderly manner in off-road vehicles,” the General said.
According to intelligence reports, these 600 terrorist fighters have passed into Jordanian territory through the Tafas border crossing, only to enter Syria again in the southern Daraa Governorate de-escalation zone, where a ceasefire between the government and rebel fighters is in place.
“In another ‘strange’ coincidence, almost simultaneously with them, two convoys with medicines and food for local population entered this de-escalation zone,” Konashenkov stated. Reportedly, a total of 90 tonnes of humanitarian aid was delivered by trucks from Al Tanf to the rebel-held Daraa cities of Hajmi and Khel, both of which are under control of Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Al-Qaeda offshoot formerly known as Al-Nusra.
The humanitarian aid convoys, which were stolen from the Syrian Army on the Damascus-Deir Ezzor road, were unloaded upon reaching their destinations in the Daraa de-escalation zone, and all aid is reported to be in the hands of the rebel forces there.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, the stealing of the convoys is intended as a provocation to disrupt the ceasefire in the southern de-escalation zone, that was established as part of the Astana negotiations.
“Considering such serious manpower reinforcements with US benevolence and the creation of the stock of medicines with food supplies, one should not be an expert to forecast an attempt to disrupt the peace agreement now in the southern de-escalation zone as well. We are warning that all the responsibility for the peace process sabotage will be borne by the US side,” General Konashenkov concluded.
The Russian statement is a follow-up of earlier accusations by the Russian Federation that the United States is merely “simulating” its war against ISIS, rather than taking decisive action. Konashenkov has stated before that “the base illegally deployed by them [the US] to southern Syria is turning into a black hole.”