(Vatican Radio) Russia has denied claims that it targets U.S. backed opposition trroops in Syria, wounding several fighters. The announcement came amid growing tensions between the United States and Moscow over Syria and other conflicts.
Listen to the report by Stefan Bos:
A Russian military spokesman on Sunday denied that a Russian airstrike wounded six rebels of a U.S.-backed opposition force in Syria. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said Saturday that its fighters had been hit in the airstrike near the eastern city of Deir el-Zour. That was recently liberated from the feared Islamic State group.
But Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a statement that Russian air forces "carry out pinpoint strikes only on Islamic State targets."
The official added that Russia's attacks against the militants had been "observed and confirmed through several channels."
However, the latest controversy has added to tensions between Moscow and Washington, already strained over Russia's role in Ukraine and alleged meddling in the recent U.S. presidential election. While Russia supports the forces of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, the United States backs forces seeking his ouster. Reports of Russian attacks against U.S.-backed forces aren't the only incidents spoiling East-West relations.
Washington and Moscow have also held discussions arising from the U.S. shootdown of a Syrian fighter jet earlier this year, which Russia called "violation" of a U.S.-Russian understanding on avoiding air incidents.
It has increased concerns among officials of the U.S.-led coalition and the Russian side that the Syrian war could lead to a wider international conflict. That would mean even more bloodshed.
The United Nations says that since the war began in 2011, an estimated 400,000 people have been killed, including children.