US-backed militias say will not let Syrian govt forces cross Euphrates

FILE PHOTO: A view shows damaged buildings in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria February 19, 2014. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi/File Photo
U.S.-backed Syrian militias will not let government forces cross the Euphrates River in their bid to recover eastern Syria, their commander said on Friday, but Russia said army units had already done so near the city of Deir ez-Zor.

Militia commander Abu Khawla said a civilian administration would be set up to run areas of Deir ez-Zor province being captured from Islamic State by his fighters, including its oil fields. The Syrian government was “not fit to lead and rule the people”, he said.

The Syrian government would fight any force, including US-backed forces also battling Islamic State militants, in its drive to recapture the whole of the country, a top aide to President Bashar al-Assad said on Friday, as cited by Reuters.

“Whether it’s the Syrian Democratic Forces, or Daesh (Islamic State, IS, ISIS, IS) or any illegitimate foreign force in the country … we will fight and work against them so our land is freed completely from any aggressor,” Bouthaina Shaaban said in an interview with Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV.

Shaaban said the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had captured areas from Islamic State “without any fighting,” apparently accusing them of collusion with the jihadists.