Russia has done “virtually zero” in the fight against Islamic State terrorists in Syria the US Secretary of Defense has claimed, contending that the US and its coalition partners are carrying this burden “by themselves.”
“They haven’t done anything,” Ash Carter stated in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press. “They came in, they said they were going to fight ISIL, and they said they were going to help in the civil war in Syria.”
“They haven’t done either of those things. As a consequence of course, we’re fighting ISIL ourselves,” adding that Moscow achieved “virtually zero” in Syria.
Carter moved on to praise US-led efforts to free the Iraqi city of Mosul which has been ongoing since the mid-October. He said the US campaign there is going “according to the plan” – contrasting with initial projections and US media reports that Iraq’s second largest city would be liberated in time for the US elections in November.
Criticizing Russian involvement in Syria, Carter said that it “almost certainly” made the ending of Syrian civil war “harder,” because Moscow failed to align with Washington’s intention to oust the Syrian president and failed to “help Assad move aside gently” and “bring the moderate opposition into the Syrian government.”
Moscow never made such promises, however, instead, it has repeatedly insisted that it is up to Syrian people to decide the future of their country without intervention or advice from outside. Russia’s involvement in Syria is focused on preserving Damascus’ sovereignty and bringing those who agree to join the reconciliation process to the negotiation table, while eliminating as many Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and other jihadist groups as possible.
Russia has on numerous occasions requested coordinated strikes against IS, but the Pentagon snubbed Moscow’s invitation to do so. In addition, Washington also failed to separate the so-called “moderate” opposition groups from jihadist fighters, further complicating the task.