MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia expects Washington to answer questions on the US new strategy in Syria in a frank and comprehensible way, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said.
"When we hear about the new line of the United States, the line, which calls for creation of some local councils on the territory of sovereign Syrian Arab Republic, it most certainly raises questions on our part. We address these questions to Washington and expect to receive an honest and comprehensible answer," Lavrov said after a meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Jaafari on Monday.
The Russian top diplomat has described the US-led coalition's actions in Syria as "some odd things," pointing out multiple cases when terrorists deployed in areas controlled by "opposition backed by the US" were transferred to maintain resistance to the Syrian government forces' offensive on Daesh terrorists' positions were recorded.
"In particular, there were cases of a mass exodus of ISIS [Daesh, banned in Russia] terrorists from Raqqa exactly when the US-led coalition was besieging the city. There were other incidents linked with our American colleagues trying to draw some lines beyond which the Syrian army should not go," Lavrov said, apparently referring to September's demand by the SDF Deir Ez-Zor Military Council commander, urging the government troops not to cross the Euphrates River.
Lavrov's statement comes just a day after the Russian Defense Ministry compared the US-led coalition's operation in Raqqa, which had been under Daesh control since 2014, to the bombing of Dresden during WWII. The ministry's spokesman accused the coalition of trying to cover up the tracks of "barbaric" airstrikes that have allegedly "buried" thousands of Raqqa civilians during the campaign to liberate the former de-facto Daesh "capital" from Daesh.
Moscow has repeatedly voiced concern over the course of the Raqqa operation, saying that numerous "mistakes" by the coalition's aviation resulting in civilian casualties, as well as the lack of humanitarian aid had led to a humanitarian catastrophe the city.
After almost a year of the operation, the Raqqa military campaign conducted by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces with the coalition's aerial support was completed on October 20, with the US president calling the long-awaited victory a "critical breakthrough." During the final phase of the operation, the coalition agreed on the evacuation of a few hundred Daesh fighters from Syria along with civilians from the city and later launched an offensive to wipe the rest of the terrorists, mostly of foreign origin, out.
Shortly after the operation ended, media reports suggested, citing the SDF declaration on Raqqa's liberation, that the Kurdish-led rebels would transfer control over Raqqa to the local council.