Pentagon chief criticises Russian involvement in Syria

US defense chief Ashton Carter says Russia's involvement in Syria has mostly created negative effects due to supporting Assad regime rather than fighting with DAESH terrorist organisation

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

United States Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter delivers a speech during his visit to Incirlik Airbase in Adana, southern Turkey on Dec.15, 2015.

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has stated on Tuesday that Russian involvement in Syria has mostly created negative results because of the country’s strong support of the Assad regime rather than dealing with the DAESH terrorist threat.

Carter made his remarks during his visit to Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, which is currently used by US-led coalition forces in order to conduct air strikes against DAESH in Syria following a comprehensive agreement between Turkey and the US government that was reached on July 23.

Carter has emphasised on the importance of defeating DAESH in his speech, addressing military personnel of US-led multinational forces in the military base which is located in the Turkish southern province of Adana being 100 km (60 miles) away from northwest Syrian border.

However, the Russians have been “propping up Assad rather than assisting the transition. And they've said they were coming to fight ISIL [DAESH]. And they have, instead, been striking the opposition and not always conducting themselves professionally,” Carter pointed out.

Russian intervention into the Syrian conflict began with a bombing campaign on the side of the Assad regime on Sept. 30, targeting mostly Syrian opposition-held territories in the country, rather than DAESH. The intervention has been strongly protested by US, Turkey and the NATO alliance.

“That needs to change. I think that's what Secretary Kerry will be talking about. In the meantime, we will continue to wage our campaign. Nobody will get in our way,” he insisted.

US Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and also Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday in order to break the political deadlock concerning the Syrian civil war.

US-led anti-DAESH coalition and Turkey have consistently defended to topple the Assad regime and backing opposition groups while Russia has supported the regime since the beginning of the conflict.

“We want the same outcomes, we see the same dangers, we understand the same challenges,” and at the same time being “honest with differences,” Kerry disclosed following the extensive talks.

Carter has been more sceptical of the Russian intentions saying that “I hope that the Russians get on the right side and do the right thing, but I'm not sure they will.”

“But in the meantime, we're going to carry on our campaign,” he added.

Pentagon chief has also drew attention to the critical role the Incirlik Air Base has been playing in the military campaign against DAESH saying that “this is a very important location in the point of the spear in that campaign.”

“That's not the only thing that Incirlik does. Incirlik also participates in anchoring the southern flank of the great NATO alliance, which has kept the peace in Europe for more than half a century and still does, and does so, by the way, in the face of some new challenges in addition to ISIL [DAESH], and I'm speaking, obviously, of Russia and its activities in Ukraine,” he further striked.

Turkey, which has been a member of the NATO alliance since 1950s, is in a high political tension with Russia over the downing of a Russian fighter jet near its border in northwestern Syria on the grounds that it has violated the respective Turkish airspace.

NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg declared on Nov. 24 that the Atlantic alliance backs Turkey against Russia over the incident following an extraordinary meeting of the alliance called by Turkey immediately after the shootdown.

Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base has been used by US and NATO forces for various conflicts since 1958.

TRTWorld and agencies