MOSCOW — Russia was given about four to 5 minutes warning of the Biden administration’s first military action when it struck Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria early Friday, according to Russian Overseas Minister Sergei Lavrov. But he said the warning came too late to decrease the danger of a potential clash between the 2 country’s forces.
U.S. officials imagine the attack killed a want of alleged Iranian-linked fighters, signaling the administration’s intent to train targeted military action to push back against violence tied to Tehran.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Friday that 22 Iranian-backed fighters had been killed when the strike at 1 a.m. local time Friday (6 p.m. Thursday in Washington) hit three truckloads of weapons crossing a border point from Iraq to Syria. It added that the death toll may well upward thrust.
“Our military was warned four or 5 minutes in advance. After all, this has no value even from the angle of deconfliction, as they say in relations between Russian and U.S. servicemen,” Lavrov told a Moscow information conference. He said the U.S. gaze was given when the strike was “already being delivered.” He referred to communications between the U.S. and Russian militaries to “deconflict” Syrian airspace to avoid clashes between their aircraft.
Russia emerged as a key player in Syria when President Vladimir Putin deployed forces in 2015 to back Moscow’s longtime ally, President Bashar al-Assad. Russia claims to be the only international player legally in Syria, as Assad sought Russian abet in confronting rebels in the country’s civil war.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the attack hit facilities aged by Iranian-linked Iraqi militias, including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, at a strategic border-crossing station in eastern Syria. The attack was “authorized in response to recent attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats,” Kirby said.
The last U.S. strike targeting the Syrian border situation was in late 2019 when the Pentagon struck two locations of Kataib Hezbollah.
Syrian state media confirmed the latest strike, reporting that it took place at a time when the army was targeting the Islamic State in the area.
Later Friday, Syria’s Overseas Ministry set out a statement condemning the attack, saying it breached international law and would escalate tensions in the area.
“This aggression is a negative indication of the recent American administration’s policies, which are supposed to practice international legitimacy, now not the law of the jungle that the outdated administration had employed to deal with regional and international crises around the arena,” the statement said.
Iranian-backed teams allied to Assad regulate the border crossing, using it to transport weapons, personnel and items.
Kataib Hezbollah has denied any involvement in the recent attacks against U.S. interests in Iraq. An aide to a senior Kataib Hezbollah commander told The Washington Submit that one in every of its squaddies was killed in the attack.
“It’s strange the United States bombed Kataib Hezbollah over an attack that was condemned by Kataib Hezbollah themselves,” he said, speaking on the situation of anonymity to debate delicate matters.
Whereas the United States has now not targeted the area since 2019, Israel regularly strikes internet sites near the Syrian-Iraqi border, bombing Iranian and Iranian-backed teams and their facilities, as effectively as positions of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, designated a terrorist neighborhood by the United States.
“The implicit message is that the strike is now not about the strike itself but the messages it carried,” said Omar Abu Layla, head of the monitoring neighborhood Deir al-Zour 24, which has a community on the bottom in the area. The Americans “are now not negotiating on the Iranian file outside of Iran,” he said. “[They] may agree [with Iran] on the nuclear situation, but will continue to strike militias that practice Iran outside.” Abu Layla added that the strike reveals that the United States acquired’t let ally Israel bear the brunt in hitting that area alone.
Lavrov claimed to have intelligence that America has no plans to leave Syria and was aiming to break up the country.
“It’s been alleged that they’ve decided never to leave Syria, up to the point of the country’s breakup,” Lavrov said, adding that Moscow wants to resume contacts with Washington over the warfare.
“It’s very important for us to resume contacts at the political-diplomatic level, and we hope the recent administration will set collectively teams for this reason soon satisfactory,” he said.
Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the Russian state Duma’s international affairs committee, said the attack proved that Washington was now not interested in peace in Syria.
“Clearly, the priorities of the recent U.S. administration achieve now not include peace on Syrian land and the war on scare,” Slutsky said, according to the Interfax information agency. “The airstrike killed contributors of professional-Iranian gadgets fighting for Syrian authorities forces, and the attack was launched with out any charge or trial,” he said.
Dadouch reported from Beirut. Mustafa Salim in Baghdad contributed to this yarn.