Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov has accused the U.S. of pretending to fight ISIS in the Middle East, in response to the Pentagon refusing to share intelligence on ISIS with Moscow.
Konashenkov has said that the Pentagon are fighting ISIS “in word only” during a press conference on Monday.
He thus commented on a recent statement by the Pentagon spokesperson Michelle Baldanza who confirmed that the US military did not intend to share with Moscow the information on IS targets until Russia changes its policy towards Syrian President Bashar Assad. “We are not going to cooperate with Russia on Syria until they change their strategy of supporting Assad and instead focus on ISIL (IS),” Baldanza said.
“The hackneyed thesis has once again confirmed that the Pentagon will fight against IS in word only, instead of taking real action,” Konashenkov said. “The statement by the US Defense Department spokesperson Michelle Baldanza about the [US side’s] refusal from any cooperation in the fight against Islamic State is a broken record, and it’s high time to change it,” he said.
The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said that at last week’s news briefing of the chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian General Staff, General Sergey Rudskoy, the military presented data on changes in the routes of illegal transportation of oil by the Islamic State militants.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the new routes run through the north-western regions of Iraq, which “are in the focus of constant attention of the United States.” “We publicly told our American colleagues that it is necessary not to discuss the IS activities in Iraq, but to take real action to block the terrorists’ sources of income in the region,” Konashenkov said.
On December 25, Sergey Rudskoy told journalists that Russian intelligence found almost 12,000 tank/delivery trucks on the Turkish-Iraqi border near Zakho, where the ‘eastern’ oil smuggling route used by the Islamic State terrorist group runs. “As of the time the imagery was shot, there were 11,775 tank and delivery trucks on both sides of the Turkish-Iraqi border in the vicinity of Zakho, with 4,530 of them in Turkey and 7,250 in Iraq,” he added. “It is worth mentioning that oil extracted both in Iraq and in Syria is smuggled via the checkpoint there,” he added.
The Defense Ministry had said previously that the Russia-banned Islamic State’s eastern oil smuggling route led from the oilfields in Syria’s northeast and Iraq’s northwest to Turkey via the border towns of Kara Chokh, Cham Khanik, Tavan and Zakho. Since the beginning of the operation in Syria, Russian aircraft have taken out around 2,000 tank trucks operated by the militants. “Thirty-seven oil wells and refineries operated by the terrorists and 17 tank truck convoys hauling oil products have been eliminated over the last week,” Rudskoi said.
The Russian military launched an air operation against the militants with the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria on September 30 by request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Russian air task force in Syria included over 50 aircraft, including Su-34 (NATO reporting name: Fullback) and Su-24M (Fencer) tactical bombers, Su-25 (Frogfoot) attack aircraft, Su-30SM (Flanker-H) multirole fighters and Mi-8 (Hip) and Mi-24 (Hind) helicopters. The Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement in mid-November that it would focus its strikes on the oil production, storage, refining and transportation facilities controlled by Islamic State militants.