The United States says the Tanf facility is a temporary base used to train partner forces to fight ISIS. It has rejected similar Russian allegations in the past, saying Washington remains committed to killing off ISIS and denying it safe havens.
But Gerasimov told the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper on Wednesday that the United States was training up fighters who were former ISIS militants but who now call themselves the New Syrian Army or use other names.
“They are practically Islamic State,” he said. “But after they are worked with, they change their spots and take on another name. Their task is to destabilize the situation.”
Russia has partially withdrawn from Syria, but Gerasimov said the fact that Moscow was keeping an air base and naval facility there meant it was well placed to deal with pockets of instability if and when they arose.