Russia has warned the United States that it will retaliate immediately if Syrian government forces come under fire from positions held by a U.S.-backed Kurdish-led militia in eastern Syria.

Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov made the comments in a statement on September 21, five days after the U.S.-led coalition said Russian jets struck Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, wounding several of them.

His remarks came amid rising concerns of a confrontation on the ground between Russia-backed Syrian government forces and the U.S.-backed forces fighting the Islamic State (IS) militants who captured large swathes of Syrian territory in 2014.

Konashenkov said that SDF forces had taken up positions on the east bank of the Euphrates River with U.S. special operations forces, and that Syrian troops operating alongside Russian special forces near the city of Deir al-Zour were “twice targeted with massive fire from mortar launchers and rocket artillery” from the SDF positions.

A representative of the U.S. military command in Qatar was “notified in severe form that attempts to attack from districts where SDF fighters are located will be repelled,” Konashenkov said, adding: “Fire positions in these areas will be immediately suppressed with all available weapons.”

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