Speaking at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, commander of US Central Command Joseph Votel has specifically touched upon the situation in Syria and Russia’s role there.
Army general Joseph Votel, head of the US Central Command has admitted that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government forces are prevailing in the war in Syria.
When asked by Senator Lindsey Graham whether it is “too strong a statement that, with Russia and Iran’s help, Assad has won the civil war in Syria,” Votel did not mince words.
“I don’t think that is too strong of a statement. I think they have provided [Assad with] the wherewithal to be ascendant at this point,” Votel told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
He also referred to continued Russian air operations in Syria, which Votel said had shored up Assad’s control of parts of the country, especially around the capital and other major large cities.
As far as Assad’s possible ouster is concerned, Votel said that he does not know “that that’s our particular policy at this particular point.”
He warned that Assad’s victory “means we will contend with this influence of Iran in this particular area and the influence of Russia.”
Votel’s remarks came after he accused Moscow of acting as “both arsonist and firefighter” in Syria late last month.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, for his part, underscored that “the most difficult circumstances for the civilian population of Syria exist in the areas controlled by the US-led coalition and the groups the armed opposition it is controlling.”
At least 330,000 people have been killed in the civil war in Syria which started on March 2011, according to UN. Russia’s air campaign is there at the behest of President Assad, while the US presence in Syria was never approved by the country’s government.