Russia Says U.S. 'Pretending' To Fight Islamic State in Iraq
Russia accused the United States of reducing its airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Iraq to allow the militants to enter Syria.
Military spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the Syrian regime was attempting to push the jihadists out of eastern Deir Ezzor province, but that arrivals from Iraq were boosting their numbers.
"The U.S.-led Coalition, pretending to fight ISIS largely in Iraq, sees all this but continues allegedly active measures against ISIS in Syria for some reason," he said.
"The continuing arrival of terrorists from Iraq raises serious questions about the anti-terrorist objectives of the US air force and the so-called 'international coalition’,” he added.
The U.S.-led Coalition sharply reduced its strikes on Iraq in September, as Syrian forces were beginning to retake Deir Ezzor, Konashenkov said in a statement.
"Is this change in approach from the U.S. and the Coalition a bid to cause maximum disruption to the Syrian army, backed by the Russian air force, as it seeks to free Syrian territory to the east of the river Euphrates?" Konashenkov said.
Over the past month Moscow has repeatedly accused the United States of hindering the Russian-backed Syrian army offensive in the east of the country.
Russia has been flying a bombing campaign in Syria since 2015, when it stepped in to support President Bashar al-Assad's rule and tipped the conflict in his favor.