The White House does not know if Russian citizens were involved in the attack on the headquarters of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on February 7, Donald Trump’s deputy press secretary Raj Shah told reporters at a press conference.
One of the reporters was interested to know whether Trump had been notified about the attack which took place in the region of the Khasham settlement, and whether there is “any information on Russian representatives’ involvement in this”.
“The president was informed about the incident,” Shah replied, “I have no answer to the question on Russians’ involvement”.
The TV company CBS, citing an unnamed Pentagon representative, claimed that there were Russians among the Syrian pro-government forces who attacked the SDF headquarters. However, Official Defense Ministry Spokeswoman Dana White told reporters in press conference that she did not wish to “engage in speculation” regarding the composition of the forces.
According to Colonel Thomas Will, head of the PR department of the Operation Inherent Resolve headquarters, which is run in Iraq and Syria by a group of countries headed by the US, roughly 500 people with tank and artillery support were involved in the attack on the SDF headquarters, and more than 100 of them were killed. “After 20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds exploded within 500 meters of the headquarters, the SDF with coalition support made a series of air and artillery strikes against the aggressor. During his time there were advisers from the coalition in the headquarters, and these actions were taken as self-defense,” he said in the published statement. None of the American instructors who were present to train SDF members were injured. A single SDF fighter was wounded, Will added.
As reported earlier by the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Syrian militia came under coalition fire in the Deir al-Zor province on February 7 due to military action that was not coordinated with Russia. 25 militiamen were wounded. The Russian Defense Ministry stated that there are no Russian soldiers in the region.