Russian MoD: US Directly Supports ISIS Terrorists in Syria

MOSCOW- The Russian Defense Ministry has said it has obtained evidence the US-led coalition provides support for the terrorist group Islamic State (outlawed in Russia).

"The Abu Kamal liberation operation conducted by the Syrian government army with air cover by the Russian Aerospace Force at the end of the last week revealed facts of direct cooperation and support for ISIS terrorists by the US-led ‘international coalition,’" the Russian Defense Ministry said, according to Itar Tass.

The ministry showed photo shoots made by Russian unmanned aircraft on November 9 which show kilometers-long convoys of IS armed groups leaving Abu Kamal towards the Wadi es-Sabha passage on the Syrian-Iraqi border to avoid strikes by the Russian aviation and the government army.

 The US refused to conduct airstrikes over the leaving IS convoy. "Americans peremptorily rejected to conduct airstrikes over the ISIS terrorists on the pretext of the fact that, according to their information, militants are yielding themselves prisoners to them and now are subject to the provisions of the Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War," the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The Defense Ministry specified that "the Russian force grouping command twice addressed the command of the US-led ‘international coalition’ with a proposal to carry out joint actions to destroy the retreating ISIS convoys on the eastern bank of the Euphrates."

The Americans failed to answer the Russian side’s question on why IS militants leaving in combat vehicles heavily equipped are regrouping in the area controlled by the international coalition to conduct new strikes over the Syrian army near Abu Kamal, the Russian Defense Ministry stressed.

The ministry also said that the coalition’s aviation tried to disturb Russia’s Aerospace Forces near Abu Kamal to ensure safe exit of terrorists.

"The coalition’s aviation tried to create obstacles for the aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces in this area to safely shield militants of the Islamic State, who are leaving Abu Kamal, from the strikes of government forces," the ministry said. To this aim, the coalition’s attack aircraft entered the airspace over the 15-km zone around the city to hamper the Russian aircraft’ mission, it said.

According to the Defense Ministry, the United States provided cover for Islamic State militants to use them in attempts to attain its own aims in the Middle East.

"There is indisputable evidence that the United States pretends it is waging irreconcilable struggle against international terrorism in front of the international community, while in reality it provides cover for the combat-ready Islamic State groups to let them regain strength, regroup themselves and advance US interests in the Middle East," the ministry said.

The Syrian government troops’ offensive against the city of Abu Kamal has disrupted the US plans to create pro-American authorities to govern the territories on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

"The Syrian troops’ rapid offensive in Abu Kamal has derailed the US plans to set up ‘pro-American’ authorities to govern the territories on the eastern bank of the Euphrates uncontrolled by the Syrian government," the ministry said.

Militants of the Islamic State acting under the guise of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) could act as the local "pro-American forces" controlling the city. The flags used by Syrian Democratic Forces units found in Abu Kamal confirm that, the Russian Defense Ministry noted.

Lavrov:  Russia, US discuss de-escalation zone in Syria’s southwest

Moscow and Washington discussed the de-escalation zone in Syria’s southwest and the text of the deal is open for the public, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Tuesday.

"In particular, we discussed with the Americans a mechanism of the de-escalation zone’s operation in Syria’s southwest," Lavrov said. "This is an open agreement and its text is available," Lavrov said, adding that representatives of Jordan also took part in hammering out the deal.

"If one looks at who poses the biggest threat, it is the United States’ charges, specifically, various foreign terrorists, militants who ‘cling’ to those armed opposition groups backed by the US," the minister said.

"As for Al-Bukamal, it is not the only example of the US attempts to spare terrorists," he said. "We remember that during the operation to free Raqqa, as well as in Iraq’s Mosul, the gates were, so to say, opened for the Islamic State terror group [IS, outlawed in Russia - TASS]," Lavrov said. "There are a lot of questions to ask about the United States’ goals in Syria, because US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has told me many times that their only goal is to defeat the IS," Lavrov said.

Astana talks

He went on to say that Moscow believes that the Astana talks and convocation of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress will help the Geneva process on Syria succeeds.

"The statement approved by Russian and US Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump does contain reference to the importance of the Geneva process," Lavrov said. "The statement calls on all Syrian parties to support the Geneva political process. And then a very important addition follows: ‘to support efforts to ensure its success.’ The efforts contributing to the success of the Geneva process are chiefly what is being done in Astana and, I hope, preparations to convene the Syrian National Dialogue Congress will contribute to the attempt to reach this success."