(Sputnik) — The Pentagon has rejected claims by a Russian military commander that it trained Islamists in Syria, saying such allegations were absurd, in a comment to Sputnik on Friday.
Russian General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov said this week US instructors were training Islamic State (Daesh or ISIS) militants at two military bases, where US special forces operate, to boost rebel ranks. “There was a threat of seizure of the city Al Quaryatayn in Syria. Their forces were defeated. It is clear that the militants are being trained there,” Gerasimov said.
“The allegation that the U.S. supports ISIS is false and absurd. We do not train ISIS. We work with our partners to kill or capture ISIS,” the US Department of Defense’s Rebecca Rebarich said.
Gen. Gerasimov said that 350 militants had been blocked by Syrian troops at the At Tanf garrison in the country’s southeast, while some 750 more remained at the Shaddadi camp, controlled by Kurdish opposition forces. Gerasimov assumed that after the training former Daesh terrorists would become members of the so-called New Syrian Army, whose task is to destabilize situation in the country.
Later, Syria’s SANA news agency has reported, citing eyewitnesses, that on Wednesday, US helicopters have evacuated Daesh leaders from several areas across the Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor to to safety in al-Hasakah province, much of which is presently under the control of Kurdish and US forces.