The United States says Russia’s air campaign against militants in Syria has “dangerously exacerbated” the years-long crisis in the Arab country.
During her testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson accused Russia of strengthening the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad instead of targeting Daesh (ISIL) terrorists.
She said that the Syrian military’s campaign, backed by Russian airstrikes, has displaced as many as 120,000 Syrians.
“Russia’s military intervention has dangerously exacerbated an already complex environment,” Patterson stated.
She claimed that Russian fighter jets are striking “moderate” militants, civil defense crews, hospitals, centers for displaced persons and ambulances.
“So far, then, this has not been a Russian fight against terrorism so much as an effort to preserve the Assad regime [sic],” Patterson said.
She went on to say that Syria needs “a political settlement.”
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The crisis has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people so far and displaced millions of others.
On September 30, Russia began its military campaign against militants wreaking havoc in Syria. Moscow has carried out scores of airstrikes, killing hundreds of terrorists.
US officials have told The Associated Press that Russia has directed parts of its military campaign against US-backed militants and other extremist groups in an effort to weaken them.
They say the CIA-trained militants are under Russian strikes with little prospect of rescue by their American supporters.
On Friday, President Barack Obama ordered the deployment of Special Operations troops to Syria to “assist” militants fighting against the government and the ISIL terrorist group, in an apparent breach of his promise not to put US “boots on the ground” there.
On Monday, President Barack Obama said US troops in Syria will not be engaged in fights against ISIL terrorists.
According to a writer and political analyst, the US is deploying special forces to Syria to use them as “human shields” to halt Russian airstrikes against the CIA-trained militants there.
Finian Cunningham, who has extensively written for Russia Today, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV, made the remarks in an article published by Russia Today website on Sunday.