In this Friday, March 1, 2019 file photo, a woman is frisked by a U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter at a screening area after being evacuated out of the last territory held by Islamic State group militants, in the desert outside Baghouz, Syria. (AP PHOTO)
MOSCOW, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Washington is training Syrian militants in the U.S.-controlled zone in the central province of Homs, while U.S. companies are pilfering oil from the country, chief of the Russian General Staff's Main Operations Directorate Sergei Rudskoy said Monday.
"In the 55-km area around al-Tanf, U.S. instructors are training a large armed unit, Magavir al-Saura, and a number of small militant groups for the so-called Army of Arab Tribes," Rudskoy said at a news briefing.
"The total number of militants reaches 2,700 people," he said.
Part of the militants trained at al-Tanf in the remote southeastern countryside of Homs are being transferred by U.S. Air Force helicopters to the east bank of the Euphrates and territories controlled by Syrian government troops, according to the senior Russian officer.
They are tasked with sabotage, destruction of oil and gas infrastructure and launching terrorist attacks against government forces, he said.
Moreover, the United States is busy with plundering the oil facilities and deposits on the east bank of the Euphrates belonging to the Syrian government, Rudskoy said.
He said, the number of employees of U.S. private military companies at the hydrocarbon facilities in the region has increased to over 3,500 people.
A significant part of the proceeds from the smuggling of oil is spent on the maintenance of the illegal armed groups, bribing the sheikhs of Arab tribal unions and fomenting anti-government sentiments, Rudskoy said.
"In exchange for help in smuggling oil, the United States is arming to the teeth both Kurdish and Arabian forces, which then apply it against each other, worsening the situation in the war-torn region," Rudskoy said.
The U.S. military claimed that it would maintain a force at al-Tanf to bolster local forces against Islamic State (IS).