Russia on Tuesday accused the US of intentionally reducing its airstrikes in Iraq to allow the group’s militants to stream into Syria to slow the Russian-backed advance of the Syrian army thereby pretending to fight Islamic State.
“Everyone sees that the U.S.-led coalition is pretending to fight Islamic State, above all in Iraq, but continuing to allegedly fight Islamic State in Syria actively for some reason,” said Major-General Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for Russia’s defense ministry.
“The actions of the Pentagon and the coalition demand an explanation. Is their change of tack a desire to complicate as much as they can the Syrian army’s operation, backed by the Russian air force, to take back Syrian territory to the east of the Euphrates?” asked Konashenkov.
“Or is it an artful move to drive Islamic State terrorists out of Iraq by forcing them into Syria and into the path of the Russian air force’s pinpoint bombing?”
In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning described the Russian accusations as “absolutely false.”
“We remain committed to killing ISIS and denying them safe havens and the ability to carry out strikes in the region or globally,” Manning said, using an acronym for Islamic State.