The Russian military has accused the U.S.-led coalition of providing safe passage for ISIS terrorists to leave the area around its stronghold of Raqqa in Syria.
General Sergei Surovikin, commander of the Russian forces in Syria, claimed in a briefing that ISIS recently made a deal with Kurdish forces to leave two villages located southwest of Raqqa and head toward Palmyra, instead.
Surovikin said that “it looks like Americans use IS in order to forestall the advances of Syrian government forces under the excuse of fighting international terrorism.”
The general claimed the Kurds and U.S. forces “collude with the leaders of the IS, who surrender the areas under their control and head to provinces where Syrian government forces operate.”
According to Surovikin, “There is an impression that under the slogan of fighting international terrorism in Syria the Americans are using IS to offer resistance to government forces’ advances.“
If this is the case, it would certainly fall in line with the U.S. establishment’s opposition to the Assad regime and their consistent calls for the Syrian president’s removal from power. Though President Trump initially campaigned on the platform of moving away from America’s longstanding policy of regime change and nation-building, his administration shifted gears in April following a chemical weapons attack that the West pinned on Assad, despite refutations from some experts. During his time in office, President Barack Obama also repeatedly called for Assad’s removal, as did Hillary Clinton.
The Russian general further criticized the United States on Friday for attempting to attack Syrian government forces in Syria as the Russian military and pro-Assad troops continue to attack the Islamic State directly. Though the United States has certainly launched airstrikes against the terror group, it has also ramped up efforts against Assad-aligned forces, which are directly battling ISIS — a contradictory stance if the top priority is to destroy ISIS, as the Trump administration has claimed.
Despite the fact that Iranian militias within Syria are effectively battling the Islamic State, the United States has pushed for direct confrontation with those militias as they have attempted to retake the southern border region of Al-Tanf. Just this week, the United States launched two airstrikes on pro-government forces, drawing criticism from the Syrian government. The U.S. military also shot down an armed drone that allegedly dropped munitions over a U.S. coalition training base.
The U.S. has justified these actions claiming Syrian-allied troops threatened their training camp in the country, but Surkovikin dismisses these justifications. He “dismissed the U.S. argument that Syrian government forces there posed a threat to the training camp as ‘absurd’ and criticized Washington’s action as a violation of Syria’s sovereign right to protect its border,” according to U.S. News.
Indeed, the United States is an outside invading force in Syria, and though Russia is far from innocent in its bombings — and is responsible for many civilian deaths, just like the United States — it is a Syrian ally that was welcomed into the country, as was Iran.
Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military’s General Staff also questioned the U.S. military’s motives:
“Having declared the goal of fighting international terrorism, the coalition strikes Syrian troops while letting IS militants exit the encircled areas unhampered, thus boosting terrorist groupings around Palmyra and Deir el-Zour. It raises a question why they do it and what their real goals are.”