The Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian regime have agreed to deconflict operations on the ground in the area around Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, a spokesperson for the US-led Coalition told Grasswire.
On Monday, July 17, the Pentagon said the SDF used an established US-Russian communications channel to reach the agreement with the Syrian military.
“They do have an agreed upon deconfliction mechanism now … This deconfliction line was agreed by SDF, coalition and the Syrian regime via the Russian line of communication,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said at a press briefing.
The Coalition on Tuesday gave Grasswire details of the deconfliction line:
“The de-confliction line runs in an irregular arc from a point southwest of Tabqah east to a point on the Euphrates River. The line was agreed on by the SDF, Coalition, Syrian regime and Russians. The purpose of the line is to de-conflict Syrian regime operations and SDF and Coalition counter-ISIS operations.”
The agreement comes as pro-regime forces continue to move along the west bank of Lake Assad in the direction of Deir ez-Zor. Davis noted that Coalition-backed SDF came into contact with government troops south of the Tabqa dam, but the problem was quickly resolved through the deconfliction channel with Russia.
“It’s been a couple of weeks that we have been actively talking via the Russian deconfliction line on this,” Davis said.
The US-Russia deconfliction mechanism was temporarily suspended last month following the US shooting down of a Syrian Su-22 jet near Raqqa on June 18. In response to the incident, Russia said it would track, target and intercept Coalition aircraft in Syria.
In May, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said Washington and Moscow were working on a new deconfliction proposal for Syria that would include the area near Deir ez-Zor.
Col. John Dorrian, then the Coalition spokesperson, said in March that Deir ez-Zor could become the next target of counter-ISIS operations after the liberation of Raqqa.
Abu Yacoub, political advisor to the Free Syrian Army, said on July 3 that the Coalition was seeking to establish a fire base in al-Shaddadi to assist the FSA-linked Maghawir al-Thawra group in its advance to Deir ez-Zor. The base was expected to house up to 150 people.