U.S. officials are claiming that Russia are secretly targeting CIA operatives in Syria that has so far killed 150 CIA-trained rebels.
The claims state that Russia’s apparent mission to destroy ISIS is really a facade, and that their real mission is to kill American assets.
A U.S. official, who believes up to 150 U.S. trained rebels have been killed by the Russians, told Fox News: ‘Putin is deliberately targeting our forces. Our guys are fighting for their lives.’
Talks between the two countries will be held today after the Pentagon said pilots made visual contact with Russian aircraft on Saturday.
However, Moscow has said the United States has refused to host a delegation led by the Russian prime minister for discussions on the Syrian conflict.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Washington had informed Moscow that it will not meet the Russian delegation – and will only agree to military talks to avoid clashes.
He said the offer was made last month when presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama met during the United Nations General Assembly. However, Russia launched airstrikes in Syria after that.
The senior U.S official told Fox News today’s talks will only discuss how to de-conflict airspace over Syria and there will be no discussion on co-ordination with Russian forces.
‘They aren’t targeting ISIL, so there is nothing to co-ordinate,’ the official said, adding the only role for Russia is to help Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad step aside.
‘They have been completely disingenuous about their desire to fight ISIL.’
But Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Washington’s decision will not help combat the terror group and settle the conflict in Syria.
He said Putin’s offer to send the delegation led by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev underlined Moscow’s desire to raise the level of discussions on the topic.
It comes as thousands of Iranian troops joined Russian aircraft and the Syrian army in preparation for an offensive near the ISIS stronghold of Aleppo.
Russia began air strikes over Syria on September 30 and has stepped up its mission in recent days.
It was announced yesterday that they had carried out 88 missions in the previous 24 hours in one of the heaviest days of bombardments of their campaign so far.
And after the CIA spent more than two years secretly working to arm, train and fund thousands of select so-called moderate Syrian rebels to oppose Assad, U.S. officials have watched those groups become the target of Russian missiles.
But the Obama administration is unlikely to protect the U.S.-backed rebels from Russian strikes – by providing them with surface-to air missiles, for instance – for fear they could fall into the wrong hands.
Instead, the U.S. had been continuing to deliver American-made TOW anti-tank missiles – which have been deployed by rebels with great success over the past six months.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Tuesday that ‘countering Russia’s involvement in Syria doesn’t rate nearly as high on the scale’ as battling ISIS, which has declared a caliphate across parts of Syria and Iraq.