The head of the Russian parliament’s international affairs committee, Alexei Pushkov, has accused the United States military of deliberately bombing the desert instead of hitting terrorist targets in Syria for the past year.
Writing on his Twitter account, Pushkov said that US Senator John “McCain accused us of striking out at US-trained insurgents… However, since they have either run away or joined al-Qaeda, hitting them is a mission impossible.”
In a separate interview with France’s Europe 1 Radio service, Pushkov said that the Russian aerial campaign in Syria would take three to four months.
“The US-led coalition spent a whole year pretending they were striking ISIL targets but where are the results of these strikes?” Pushkov asked.
The Americans have been “pretending” all along, he continued. “It’s the intensity that is important. The US coalition pretended to bomb Daech for a year, but there are no results. If you do it in a much more efficient way, the results will be seen.” He added that in his view, 80 percent of all the US strikes have been pointless.
Turning to Russian intervention in Syria, he ruled out ground forces becoming involved in the war, and said that Russia was intervening to “maintain Syria as an independent state” but also to provide protection for Russia.
“The Islamic state is an expansionist organization. They indicated that they had very important goals in Central Asia, our military allies,” he said, referring to the possibility of militant Islam spreading throughout the former Soviet states to the south of Russia, and even into the Russian state.
According to a report in Russia’s Sputnik News (the former Pravda news service), the American government had earlier accused the Russian air force of “targeting areas in Syria where ISIL militants were nowhere in sight.”
McCain, who is chairman of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, said that he could “absolutely confirm” that Russian air strikes had hit mythical “Free Syrian Army” recruits who had been armed and trained by the US.