US AirstrikesBreach Ceasefire

At around 8:00 p.m on Saturday, September 17th,US airstrikes targeted Syrian Arab Army (SAA) positions inJabal Thardeh mountains, in western Deir Ezzor Governorate. The unprovoked attack resulted in thekilling of at least 80 Syrian soldiers, and injuring over 100. In attacking Syrian forces, the United States has directly violated the ceasefire agreement enacted earlier onMonday, jeopardisingthe ongoing diplomatic process to find a resolution to the Syrian conflict.

In addition to a serious breach of the ceasefire, it appears that the US airstrikes aimed at the SAA were intended to help ISIS forces recapture the hilltop at Jabal Tardeh, which the Syrian army had taken from the terrorist group days earlier.ISIS indeed re-captured the position in Deir Ezzor on Saturday afternoon, with the aid of the US airstrikes.

According to Al-Amdar News, witnesses stated that thefour US planes responsible for the attack were seen "coming from the Iraqi border".

This is the second time this year that the US has attacked the Syrian Army in theDeir Ezzor governorateThe area is of particular strategic importance as it provides access to the airport of theprovincial capital, and it is adjacent to theThayyem Oil fields - an important source of income for ISIS.

More Ceasefire Violation

Since the establishment of the ceasefire on Monday, numerous groups have been found to have violated the agreement.Russia has provided documentation of 21 violations committed by US-supported and allied militants between Friday Sept.

16th and Saturday Sept. 17th. In the 24 hours prior to this, it recorded an additional 35 violations, including two by the state of Israel in the southern part of the country.On Thursday, reports surfaced of a suspected Israeli violation of Syrian airspace, which was responded to by Hezbollah. The paramilitary group, allied with President Assad, downed one of the Israeli jets, while the second was hit but managed to return to its base.

Russian Response

In response to the ceasefire violation, Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed concerns over whether the US is genuinely invested in vanquishing ISIS, and has called for an emergency UN Security Council session to discuss these most recent developments. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, heavily criticised the US's actions,stating that"If earlier we had suspicions that the Nusra Front is protected this way, now, aftertoday's airstrikes onthe Syrian army we come toa really terrifying conclusion forthe entire world: the White House is defending IS [ISIS or Daesh)."

Speaking from Kyrgyzstan on Saturday, President Putin alsohas expressed concerns over the lack of cooperation from the Western Coalition into investigating ceasefire violations.

He lambasted President Obama for not publicly releasing an official version of the agreement, saying "The only reason why they apparently don’t want tomake it public is because the international community, aswell asAmerican and Russian public will immediately find outwho is not abiding bythe deal".

New Syrian Offensive

At 3:00 am last night, it was announced that the Syrian Arab Army re-took the hill-top in western Deir Ezzor (Jabal Thardeh), paving the way for further advances against ISIS.This was made possible by the Russian airstrikes which targeted ISIS defensive positions in Tal Kroum throughout the night, "clearing the way" for the SAA to advance.The Syrian ground troopswere also reinforced by a contingent of over 1,000 soldiers from the105th Brigade of the Republican Guard.

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