West should boast about its ‘decisive victories’ in Afghanistan, Iraq & Libya, not Syria – Zakharova
On Saturday, the US-led Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) dismissed the Russian defense ministry announcement earlier this week, which proclaimed the liberation of Syria from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), with only “some spots of resistance” remaining across the war-torn country. Brushing aside Russia’s achievements in Syria, a CJTF-OIR representative told Sputnik that terrorists continue to operate in the Deir ez-Zor province.
“The US-led coalition, not the Russian Federation or Syrian Regime, is the only force that has made meaningful progress against [Daesh/ISIS],” the spokesman told the news agency.
Just before that announcement, French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, also refused to acknowledge Moscow’s role in defeating IS, instead, accusing Russia of “appropriating” the US-led coalition victory.
“I sometimes find it a little surprising that Russia appropriates the victory against Daesh,” Le Drian told the BFMTV channel, adding, that the demise of IS came “thanks to the actions of the coalition.”
Earlier Wednesday, President Donald Trump praised himself and Secretary of Defense James Mattis for their achievements in bringing IS to its knees. “He’s knocked the hell out of them,” Trump boasted during a cabinet meeting. “Of course, I made it possible by what I let you do, right?” Trump lightheartedly asked Mattis.
Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, took note of the statements which significantly downplayed Moscow’s role, and ‘advised’ Western politicians to focus on their perceived successes in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, where over the years, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, infrastructure destroyed and vast numbers left in ruins.
“Our Western partners have been saying in the recent days that it was not Russia but them, the coalition, who defeated Islamic State in Syria," Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page, especially calling out the Le Drian statement. “Dear Sirs, stop it! Your successes are in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. You should be proud of them,” she sarcastically pointed out.
Russia’s defense ministry also found it “strange” hearing from the French foreign minister that Moscow has somehow “awarded” itself the victory over ISIS.
“The defeat of IS in Syria is first of all result of actions by the Syrian leadership and governmental forces,” the ministry said. “With the support of the Russian Air Force, the Syrian armed forces liberated from IS terrorists hundreds of settlements and returned under control of the legitimate leadership practically the entire territory of the country.”
Russia began providing military support to Syria following an official request from Damascus in 2015 to prevent the terrorists from completely overrunning the country. Russia’s help allowed the Syrian Arab Army to turn the tide and liberate large swathes of the country previously occupied by the jihadists. Smashing the blockade of Deir ez-Zor, the terrorists last stronghold in eastern Syria, represented a turning point in this year’s campaign against the terrorists, ultimately leading to their demise.
The US coalition, meanwhile, Russia’s defense ministry stated, was only able to accomplish a so-called ‘liberation’ of Raqqa, with that ‘victory’ coming through a complete destruction of the city. The coalition also impeded Syrian government forces, conducting direct air strikes on their positions in Deir ez-Zor, the ministry said.
“In three years of its presence in Syria, the coalition only recently achieved its first ‘result’ in the fight against Daesh by destroying Raqqa along with civilians,” the ministry said. “That is why, if there is any positive role of the international coalition in defeating Daesh in Syria, it is only that it did not manage to destroy other Syrian cities with its carpet bombing, like it did with Raqqa.”