A Russian general who commands forces in Syria has accused the United States of colluding with the Islamic State (ISIS). Col. Gen. Sergei Surovikin “accused the U.S.-led coalition in Syria of providing safe corridors for the Islamic State group to leave the area around its stronghold of Raqqa,” U.S. News reported Friday.
Surovikin claimed in a briefing that ISIS militants recently made a deal with Kurdish forces to leave two villages located southwest of Raqqa and head toward Palmyra, instead.
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.”
This is not the first time the United States has been implicated in the free flow of ISIS fighters. Late last year, Anti-Media reported on an anonymous military-diplomatic official’s claims that the United States was allowing safe passage to Syria for ISIS fighters exiting Mosul, Iraq. At the time, the Iraqi military was waging a U.S.-backed offensive, but it appeared other dynamics were at play. As we noted, acknowledging the questionable nature of anonymous sources:
“An anonymous source claiming to a Russian newspaper something as conspiratorial as the U.S. directly aiding ISIS militants may seem a bit dubious, but since the offensive was launched on Monday of this week, this has been the reality on the ground.
“According to Army Lieutenant General Talib Shaghati, as reported by anti-Russian newspaper, the Guardian, ISIS militants are already fleeing Mosul to Syria. This was further confirmed by the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, who said that if ISIS were forced out of Mosul, they would likely go on to Syria.”
Though it was not confirmed whether or not the United States was behind this flow of fighters, those militants did make this journey, and on other occasions, ISIS has been discovered to be armed with American weaponry. While some of this is certainly the result of the United States’ military gross mismanagement of arms and other equipment, the broader picture suggests that, willingly or not, the United States has helped empower the Islamic State.
In one example, earlier this year the United States did not attempt to stop the advance of ISIS militants in Syria — militants who were encroaching on pro-Syrian government forces (the U.S. military has opted to tackle the Syrian government over ISIS on more than one occasion).
If intentional, this lines up squarely with leaked audio of former Secretary of State John Kerry discussing the U.S. military’s ambivalence toward the rise of the terror group, all with the aim of undermining the Assad regime.
Further, by empowering the Saudi government, which shares the same core ideology as ISIS — and has been implicated in funding the terror group — and by continually bombing the Middle East, the United States has created fertile conditions for the terror group to thrive.
While claims from the Russian government are undoubtedly biased, serve an agenda, and cannot currently be confirmed with certainty, the undeniable reality on the ground is that the United States, in some cases, tacitly accepts ISIS’ efforts and implements policies that aid its growth.