Russian Foreign Ministry Official Blames US For Death Of Russian General

Russian military helicopter flies over a desert in Deir es Zor province Syria

With the two opposing forces fighting in close proximity to one another, fears have grown that US and Russian air power could be drawn into the fight, and even end up facing one another.

Russian officials blamed Washington's policies in Syria for Asapov's death.

In its statement, the ministry said that Asapov was at a command outpost manned by Syrian troops, assisting commanders in the liberation of the city of Deir ez-Zor.

His death was "the price paid in blood" for USA hypocrisy, Russia's deputy foreign minister said.

Syrian troops supported by Iranian-backed militias have also crossed to the eastern side of the river, increasing their presence in an area where USA -backed militias have also advanced.

Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the USA -led coalition, said on Sunday that they were making gains in eastern Syria after seizing the Conoco plan from ISIS, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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The death of Russian Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov in Syria is the price Russia was forced to pay for hypocritical United States policy, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. "For operational security, we do not comment on ongoing operations or the current positions of Coalition personnel and our partner forces", the US-led coalition headquarters said.

A statement issued by the Syrian Democratic Forces said two other fighters were wounded in Monday's strike in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour.

Iran, a strong backer of the Syrian government, needs Deir al-Zour to secure a land corridor from Tehran to its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. The two sides are racing to defeat the militants and snap up oil and gas fields, fueling fears of conflict between the two groups and their superpower sponsors. The US troops do not face any “resistance from the ISIS militants, ” while their positions have no screening patrol, which could indicate that they “feel absolutely safe” in the area, the ministry said. While both oppose ISIL, they are engaged, via proxies, in a race for strategic influence and potential resources in the form of oilfields in Deir al-Zor Province.

The photos released by the Russian Defense Ministry that purport to show USA hardware at Islamic State positions could be a "quite damning" evidence of Washington's cooperation, Syria analyst Kamal Alam told RT. The U.S. -led coalition said it could not confirm who carried out the strike.

"We will not stand by with our arms crossed and we will use our legitimate right to self-defence", it said.

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