US providing cover for Daesh: Russia
Syria blasts US for tying military presence to peace talks; We won’t walk away from Syria until talks progress: Mattis; Riyadh to host Syria opposition meeting
MOSCOW: The United States is providing de-facto cover for Daesh units in Syria and only pretending to ight terrorism in the Middle East, the Russian Defence Ministry said on Tuesday.
The ministry said the US air force had tried to hinder Russian strikes on Daesh militants around the Syrian town of Albu Kamal.
“These facts are conclusive evidence that the United States, while imitating an uncompromising ight against international terrorism for the global community, in fact provides cover for Daesh units,” the defence ministry said.
Russia’s defence ministry on Tuesday posted images it said proved the US was aiding the Daesh in the Middle East, but social media users pointed out they included a still from a videogame.
The ministry’s oficial account said the black-and-white images were taken on Nov.9 near the Syria-iraq border and provided “irrefutable proof that the US is providing cover to Daesh combat units.”
But the monitor Conlict Intelligence Team (CIT), along with a number of social media users, was quick to compare one of the images with an identical still from the wargame “AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron.”
Other images posted to Twitter appeared to be taken from videos released by Baghdad’s Ministry of Defence in 2016, showing the Iraqi Air Force bombing militants near Fallujah, the CIT said.
Meanwhile, Damascus on Tuesday blasted US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis for saying a Us-led coalition would continue ighting in Syria until talks to end the conlict there make progress.
Mattis told reporters on Monday that the Us-led coalition’s goal was to battle the Daesh group while inding a diplomatic solution to Syria’s sixyear war.
But Syria’s foreign ministry shot back on Tuesday, saying it “categori- cally rejected” US efforts to link peace talks to military action.
“Linking the US’S presence in Syria to a settlement process is just a pretext and an attempt to justify this presence,” said a source at the foreign ministry, quoted by state news agency SANA.
“The United States and others will not be able to impose any solution with military pressure -- on the contrary, this presence will only prolong and complicate the crisis,” said the statement.
It demanded the “immediate and unconditional withdrawal of US forces” from Syrian territory.
The US and Russia issued a joint presidential statement on Saturday saying there was “no military solution” to Syria’s grinding conlict.
On Monday, Mattis said the coalition would keep ighting to “set the conditions for a diplomatic solution.”
“We’re not just going to walk away right now until the Geneva process has traction,” he told reporters.
Saudi Arabia is to host a meeting of the Syrian opposition later this month as the United Nations prepares to convene new peace talks with the government buoyed by victories over the Daesh group.
The meeting will be held in Riyadh from Nov.22 to Nov.24 at the request of opposition factions and will aim to form a “joint negotiating delegation to resume direct negotiations in Geneva under the auspices of the UN,” the oficial Saudi Press Agency reported late on Monday.
The latest round of Un-brokered peace talks is due to open on November 28. UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said late last month that the talks had reached a “moment of truth.”
The government has been buoyed by its recapture from the Daesh group of the eastern city of Deir Ezzor and other towns further down the Euphrates Valley towards the Iraqi border.