Russia offered to help the United States in the final stages of the struggle against the militant Islamic State (ISIS) group in Iraq after Moscow declared full victory against the jihadists in neighboring Syria.
Russia has questioned the effectiveness and intentions of US forces in the Middle East, especially in the fight against ISIS, which both Washington and Moscow have promised to destroy. With the collapse of the self-proclaimed caliphate of the militants, Russia's first deputy defense minister Valery Gerasimov said on Wednesday he was ready to help the United States in Iraq after the two countries waged separate, sometimes competitive, campaigns in Syria, where he accused to the United States and its country. Allies of the coalition focus on building bases instead of ending the conflict.
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"The attention of the international anti-terrorist coalition must focus on how to destroy the militants in the western regions of Iraq in order to prevent the return of ISIS to Syria, and how to exclude the revival of the Islamic Caliphate there, but not on the deployment of their own military bases in Syria ", said Gerasimov, according to the state news agency Tass Russian.
"We are ready to maintain dialogue and join our American counterparts in solving this problem," he added.
Although he still faces pockets of ISIS resistance in eastern Syria, Gerasimov said on Wednesday that "all formations of ISIS in Syria have been defeated, Syria has been freed from terrorists, "citing the confirmation of the Russian Ministry of Defense. The announcement came more than two years after Russia intervened directly in the war-torn country at the behest of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose armed forces fought to quell a 2011 uprising by insurgents and jihadists.
Since then, the Syrian army and allied militias, including Shiite Muslim movements backed by Iran such as Lebanon's Hezbollah, have dominated the battlefield with Russian air coverage, overcoming the previous territorial losses of the rebels and ISIS. The United States, which once supported the Syrian opposition forces, eventually shifted its support to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a mostly Kurdish alliance of Arabs and ethnic minorities. Both campaigns supported by Russia and the United States have claimed to be the most effective anti-ISIS force in Syria and have competed throughout the country to defeat their common enemy.
At the same time, the US-led coalition has also helped the Iraqi and Kurdish forces to destroy ISIS in their home country. ISIS was developed from jihadist movements, such as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, in the wake of the US invasion that toppled President Saddam Hussein in 2003 and spread to neighboring Syria a decade later. While Russia remained largely out of the fight, its ally Iran has played an important role in supporting the majority of Shiite militias fighting alongside the Iraqi military, despite their relationship with the US. After helping to put an end to some of the latest ISIS strongholds in Iraq, the militias crossed the border last month to help the Syrian military eliminate the last of the jihadists there.
While the battle against ISIS was reduced in both countries and the territory of the militants was reduced to a simple pocket along the border between Syria and Iraq, Russia and Iran have tried to use their radical military victories to expel I know. UU From the region, where their forces have fought for 14 consecutive years.
President Donald Trump also antagonized his allies in Iraq when he announced on Wednesday that he would officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite that the Palestinians also claim the holy city as their capital. Iraq has been a traditional supporter of an independent Palestinian state and has fought wars against Israel in support of it. Under Hussein, Iraq backed several Palestinian nationalist groups, and even after the leader's downfall, both Sunni and Shiite Iraqi Muslims have supported the Palestinian cause, widely seen as threatened by Trump's controversial decision.
"We warned against the danger repercussions of this decision on the stability of the region and the world," said a statement from the Iraqi government, according to Reuters.
"The US administration has to go back on this decision to stop any dangerous escalation that would fuel extremism and create favorable conditions for terrorism," he added.
Akram al-Kaabi, the head of Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, a powerful Iraqi Shiite Muslim militia backed by Iran, recently designated as a terrorist organization by the United States. The US also condemned the decision, saying: it would give its men "a legitimate reason to attack US forces."