Middle East, Asia - Pacific

Russian commentators question Trump’s ‘hit' in Idlib

No US airstrikes or coalition attacks recently detected in Idlib’s de-escalation zone, says Russian Defense Ministry

Zaki Shaikh   | 28.10.2019
Russian commentators question Trump’s ‘hit' in Idlib


Guests on a number of Russian current affairs shows are taking U.S. claims of striking Islamic State targets with a grain of salt, saying rather than providing any convincing answers, they have given rise to numerous questions about the operation by U.S. special forces in northern Syria.

Russian journalist Evgeny Poddubny claimed that U.S. President Donald Trump has exaggerated the actual significance of the operations by U.S. special forces in Idlib.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said what matters most is “the decisive quelling of ISIS by the Syrian army with the support of the Russian Air Force in early 2018,” using another name for Daesh.

He said yet another announcement about the “death” of Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “bore absolutely no operational significance to the situation in Syria or on the actions of the remaining terrorist elements in Idlib.”

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Russian Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, reminded that countering terrorism is a much more difficult task than physically eliminating any terrorist leaders. Kosachev pointed out that in addition to conducting targeted operations, the solution to such problems must involve “coordinating operations in the field, cutting off funding sources for terrorist groups and counteracting the spread of the extremist ideology.”

Coverage of the U.S. strikes on Russian news channels has pointed fingers at the “emotionally charged” language in which Trump has described almost a ‘movie-like’ night strike to liquidate Baghdadi. Doubts are being raised over the U.S. claim that his body was mutilated beyond recognition.

Konashenkov remarked that “the constantly changing information and constantly revised number of the strikes’ direct participants give rise to doubts whether an operation of such nature could be successfully carried out.

He said that under these circumstances, the American side must provide verification from independent sources which could “provide direct evidence of Baghdadi staying in Idlib.”

Konashenkov said Russia did not have reliable data on the operation conducted by U.S. armed forces to liquidate Baghdadi.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, over the past few days -- particularly on Oct. 26, the day the strikes were supposedly carried out -- no U.S. airstrikes or attacks by coalition forces were detected in Idlib’s de-escalation zone.

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