UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) — The problem of proximity between US-led and Russian-backed forces in the Syrian town of Deir ez-Zor has been worked out quite well, US Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk said at a news briefing at the United Nations on Friday.
"In Deir ez-Zor… this is where Syrian regime forces enabled by the Russians have come into close proximity to forces enabled by the United States and our coalition," McGurk said. "We think now we have that fairly well worked out. We've had very good discussions with the Russians at the military-to-military level and here in New York at the level of Secretary [Rex] Tillerson and Foreign Minister [Sergey] Lavrov."
He added that deconfliction talks between the United States and Russia have led to significant improvement in terms of mitigating the risk of accidental clashes in Syria.
"Both the United States and Russia are committed, we want to defeat ISIS [Islamic State] and we want to avoid accidents, and so we deconflict space," McGurk said. "There’s been significant improvement on the ground in terms of mutual understandings and mitigating the risks of any type of accident."
"This was an initiative of Secretary Tillerson really from his first week at the State Department to say that we have our military people on the ground and we need to make sure that we have our development and humanitarian experts on the ground to do follow through," McGurk stated. "We have some of our most experienced people there who are working on this."
The United States, Russia, Iran and other players are running out of room to avoid direct conflicts as territory ruled by the Daesh terrorist group (banned in Russia) shrinks and fighting becomes more intense, the private intelligence firm Soufan Group warned in a report on Friday.
The report cited last week's shelling of Syrian government units, including Russian special forces, by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as well as the bombing of SDF forces and embedded US special-operations units, by Russian planes as one example of conflicts that are likely to intensify.
On September 21, Russian military spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov warned US commanders that Russia would target SDF and US personnel operating near the city of Deir ez-Zor, if Russian and Syrian forces continued to come under fire from those areas, according to the report.