The Russian Defense Ministry has stated that refugees living in the Rukban desert camp in southeast Syria are being used by the United States to shield its military base near the town of al-Tanf.
The Rukban camp near the Jordanian border is home to at least 60,000 women and children who fled Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, the spokesman said. He blamed the US military for stopping Syrian, UN and Jordanian humanitarian convoys from reaching the trapped camp residents.
“Rukban refugees are de facto hostages, effectively a ‘human shield’ for the US base. Think about it, other than by Americans such ‘protection’ barriers are used in Syria only by those who they came here to fight, the terrorists,” Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.
The Russian Defense Ministry also added that the US base in Syria’s southeastern al-Tanf area has turned this strip of the border with Jordan into a black hole generating waves of Islamist insurgency.
The Pentagon has claimed the base is used by US, UK and Norwegian instructors to train Free Syrian Army militants, Russia’s Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a statement, adding the outpost was protected by tactical aviation and HIMARS multiple-launch rocket systems.
”In reality, al-Tanf has turned into a 100-kilometer ‘black hole’ on the Syrian-Jordanian state border. And, instead of the Free Syrian Army, it is spewing IS [Daesh] mobile groups who make inroads to launch subversive terrorist operations against Syrian troops and civilians,” he said.
The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman also questioned the claim by the United States that its base near al-Tanf in southeastern Syria was used for attacks on Islamists.
“The illegal establishment of the US military base on the Syrian-Jordanian border in April 2017 was publicly justified by the ‘need to conduct counter-ISIL [Daesh] operations.’ But we know of no US operation that was launched against the IS [Daesh] in the past six months of its existence,” Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.
The US-led coalition said in June it would not leave the al-Tanf garrison until the Daesh terror group (banned in Russia) was defeated. But last Wednesday Konashenkov accused the coalition of supporting Daesh instead. The base has twice been used to strike Syrian-government aligned forces fighting Islamists.