Late afternoon today (local time) U.S. hired, equipped and advised Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters killed nine Syrian Arab Army soldiers. The soldiers were in a boat crossing the Euphrates river near Deir Ezzor city.
Two sources independently reported the incident. There is so far no official confirmation. The following assumes that the above indeed happened.
The killers were from a U.S. hired gang of Arab tribal fighters under one Ahmad Abu Khawla. He is well known as a local criminal who had earlier fought for the Islamic State (ISIS). His gang is nominally under the command of the YPK/PKK which is the main U.S. ally in north-eastern Syria. U.S. special forces are in the area as "advisors" to the various SDF groups.
Abu Khawla is officially the commander of the "Deir Ezzor military council" - a body the U.S. advisors invented as umbrella for its collection of local mercenaries.
The incident happened just a day after sharply worded statements by the Russian defense department, discussed in yesterday's summary, had warned against further escalations.
The Russian defense department accused the U.S. of having incited an al-Qaeda attack in Idleb and Hama province in west-Syria as a diversion and hindrance for the Syrian-Russian campaign in Deir Ezzor in east-Syria. During the AQ attack in north-Hama al-Qaeda attempted to catch or kill 29 Russian military police soldiers who were supervising a deescalation zone in the area. The AQ attack failed under a massive Russian air campaign.
The Russian military had also accused the SDF near Deir Ezzor of firing artillery against Syrian and Russian forces near Deir Ezzor. It had promised to harshly retaliate in response to any further incident.
Some details of today's killing are still unconfirmed. But they may not even matter. The killing of nine Syrian army soldiers, while these were in a defenseless situation, will surely lead to a harsh Syrian army and Russian military reaction. The U.S. supported SDF near Deir Ezzor will be the targets.
Even if the Russian and Syrian generals hold back and refrain from retaliation, their forces on the ground will have their own ideas about having their comrades killed by illegitimate mercenaries under U.S. advice and control.
The U.S. special force "advisors" who accompany the SDF in the area better leave NOW. Otherwise U.S casualties will likely follow. The situation in east-Syria may then escalate into a violent direct conflagration between U.S. and Russian forces.
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