Washington, Oct 14: The US would not cooperate with Russia in the fight against the extremist Islamic State (IS) group, defence chief Ash Carter has said. “We (the Pentagon) are not able to associate with Russia’s approach in Syria, because it is wrongheaded and strategically short-sighted,” Xinhua quoted Carter as saying at a press conference here on Tuesday.
Russia began airstrikes in Syria on September 30 after weeks of military build-up. While the Kremlin said its goal in Syria was to target the IS, Washington accused it of targeting rebels who opposed the Syrian government. It was not the first time for Carter to dismiss the possibility of cooperation between US-led coalition and Russia on the anti-IS campaign.
During his trip to Europe last week, Carter said the US would limit its discussions with Russia to “basic, technical discussions”. “We are not prepared to cooperate in a strategy which as we explained is flawed,” said Carter on October 7. Despite Carter’s dismissal of the Russian strategy in Syria, the US on October 9 said it would abandon its own train-and-equip programme in Syria, a central pillar of US President Barack Obama’s counter-IS strategy.
Senior US officials said the initial US strategy to recruit, train and arm moderate Syrian rebels failed partly because most of the Syrian rebels were focused on fighting the Syrian government. The Pentagon admitted on September 25 that the US-trained Syrian rebels gave about a quarter of US weapons to an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.
Meanwhile, Carter on Tuesday reiterated that the Pentagon had no plans to change its policy in Syria after Russia started its own military campaign, but talks between the two militaries to de-conflict the airstrikes in Syria were vital. “Even if we can’t agree on Syria policy, we should be able to at least agree on making sure our airmen are as safe as possible,” he said, adding that the third round of talks was slated for Wednesday.