03:15 GMT06 March 2021
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    US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter accused Russia of aggravating the Syrian conflict, claiming that Moscow broke the promise to help the US in fighting Daesh.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia promised to help fight Daesh in Syria and end a civil war there, but instead aggravated it, Carter said.

    "They came in, they said they were going to fight ISIL [Daesh], and they said they were going to help in the civil war in Syria. They have not done either of those things. As a consequence of course, we’re fighting ISIL ourselves," Carter said Sunday in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press."

    Carter was also asked about Russia's alleged interference in US presidential elections. He called hacker attacks an "aggressive act" against US democracy, adding that US President-elect should consider a range of options to respond to such attacks.

    "I think we should not limit ourselves when cyber is the means used in aggression against us," Carter said, adding that it should not be though a military response.

    Russia started its anti-terrorist campaign in Syria in September, 2015, following a request by the Syrian government. A number of ceasefire attempts and peace talks have taken place between Syria's warring factions since then. A US-Russian-brokered partial ceasefire was first introduced in early 2016, but violence continued, especially in Aleppo. A second Russian-Turkish-backed ceasefire took effect after the fall of Aleppo's militant-held enclave just before the end of 2016.

    In late December 2016, US President Barack Obama announced the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, the closing of two Russian diplomatic compounds and new sanctions against six Russian individuals and five entities over Russia's alleged interference in most recent US presidential election. US officials have accused Russia of being behind cyberattacks against the Democratic Party computer systems in an attempt to influence the November US presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.

    Russian officials have repeatedly denied the allegations, calling them absurd and characterizing them as an attempt to divert US public opinion from revelations of corruption as well as other pressing domestic issues.

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