21 Sep 2017 16:12

Syrian militants might have learned location of Syrian, Russian troops in Idlib from U.S. - newspaper

MOSCOW. Sept 21 (Interfax) - It is possible that the United States has shared information about the location of Syrian and Russian forces in the de-escalation area in the Idlib province with the militants, the newspaper Kommersant said on Thursday, citing a source in the military command.

"The United States is suspected of sharing rather delicate information on the location of Syrian and Russian forces in Idlib with a group identifying itself as the 'moderate opposition.' From there, the information was either leaked to the Islamists, or it was intentionally transferred. Either option is bad for us," the source told the newspaper.

Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, said on Wednesday that militants from Jabhat al-Nusra, banned in Russia, launched a large-scale offensive on the positions of government forces in the Idlib de-escalation area on the morning of September 19.

"According to the data available, this offensive was initiated by U.S. security services in order to successfully stop the ongoing advance by government troops towards the east of Deir ez-Zor," Rudskoi said.

The harsh remarks by Rudskoi "are much milder than the reaction of the Defense Ministry's leadership," Kommersant said. According to the newspaper, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu called off his visit to Belarus for the closing ceremony of the Zapad (West) 2017 strategic exercise because of the Idlib situation.