Rus­sia ac­cuses U.S. of pre­tend­ing to fight ISIL in Syria, Iraq

Tehran Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Rus­sia ac­cused the United States on Tues­day of pre­tend­ing to fight the Is­lamic State in Iraq and the Le­vant (ISIL/Daesh) ter­ror­ist out­fit and of de­lib­er­ately re­duc­ing its air strikes in Iraq to al­low the group’s mil­i­tants to stream into Syria to slow the Rus­sian-backed ad­vance of the Syr­ian army.

In the lat­est sign of ris­ing ten­sions be­tween Mos­cow and Wash­ing­ton, the Rus­sian De­fense Min­istry said in a state­ment that the U.S.-led coali­tion had sharply re­duced its air strikes in Iraq in Septem­ber when Syr­ian forces, backed by Rus­sian air power, had started to re­take Deir al-Zor Prov­ince.

“Ev­ery­one sees that the U.S.-led coali­tion is pre­tend­ing to fight ISIL, above all in Iraq, but con­tin­u­ing to al­legedly fight ISIL in Syria ac­tively for some rea­son,” said Ma­jor-Gen­eral Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for Rus­sia’s de­fense min­istry.

The re­sult, he said, had been that mil­i­tants had moved in large num­bers from Iraqi bor­der ar­eas to Deir al-Zor where they were try­ing to dig in on the left bank of the River Euphrates. “The ac­tions of the Pen­tagon and the coali­tion de­mand an ex­pla­na­tion. Is their change of tack a de­sire to com­pli­cate as much as they can the Syr­ian army’s op­er­a­tion, backed by the Rus­sian air force, to take back Syr­ian ter­ri­tory to the east of the Euphrates?,” asked Konashenkov.

“Or is it an art­ful move to drive ISIL ter­ror­ists out of Iraq by forc­ing them into Syria and into the path of the Rus­sian air force’s pin­point bomb­ing?”

He said Syr­ian troops were in the midst of try­ing to push ISIL out of the city of al-Mayadin, south­east of Deir al-Zor, but that ISIL tried daily to re­in­force its ranks there with “for­eign mer­ce­nar­ies” pour­ing in from Iraq.

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