Claims by a Russian defense ministry spokesperson on Friday, October 6 that Islamic State uses the At Tanf deconfliction zone to carry out terrorist attacks and that refugees in the Rukban refugee camp are human shields for a U.S. base were described by a Coalition spokesperson as false allegations.
At a Friday press conference, Russian defense ministry spokesperson Major-General Igor Konashenkov said that despite the Pentagon’s repeated assertions that Coalition special forces are training Syrian opposition forces in the de-escalation zone around their base at At Tanf near the Jordan border, ISIS is using the area to launch attacks on Syrian government troops and civilians.
“Al-Tanf has turned into a 100-kilometer ‘black hole’ on the Syrian-Jordanian state border. Instead of the New Syrian Army, mobile ISIL groups, like a jack in the box, carry out sabotage and terrorist attacks against Syrian troops and civilians from there,” Konashenkov said.
Referring to what he called an “illegal deployment” at At Tanf, Konashenkov claimed the Kremlin has received no information about any operations against ISIS over the past six months.
“These allegations are false,” the Coalition spokesperson told The Defense Post in a emailed statement. “Our partner forces operating from At Tanf continue to patrol the area and engage and defeat the same ISIS forces that are attacking Syrian regime forces there.”
Rukban refugee human shields
Konashenkov further claimed that people in the nearby Rukban refugee camp were effectively being used as human shields for the base at At Tanf.
“Today refugees from Rukban are actually the hostages, to be more precise, a “human shield” for the U.S. base,” he said, adding that “such ‘protective’ barriers are used in Syria only by those whom they came to fight there, that is, terrorists.”
Dismissing Konashenkov’s claim, the Coalition spokesperson told The Defense Post: “Mr. Konashenkov’s statement regarding the displaced Syrians in Rukban is unfortunate, given he knows both our nations share the same goal of defeating ISIS in Syria and returning life in the country back to normal.”