Russia, Iran and Syria Say U.S. Making Things Worse For Their Own War On Terror

Top Russian, Iranian and Syrian military leaders all criticized U.S. military intervention in Syria and the region as a whole during the seventh annual Moscow International Security Conference, accusing Washington of having ulterior motives as all four countries battled the remnants of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).

Russian and Iranian officials decried Wednesday what they called U.S. plans to divide the Middle East, where efforts to battle ISIS have played out on the backdrop of a seven-year civil war. Moscow and Tehran are the leading allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who the U.S. attempted to overthrow by supporting the rebels of a 2011 uprising. The U.S. now supports a mostly Kurdish group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, which has eyed greater autonomy for the territory it controls across northern and eastern Syria.

Related: Trump Wants the U.S. Out of Syria, Is It Finally Time to Leave Or Is This One Big Mistake?

"The United States is set to divide Syria. It has been laying potential groundwork for a new all-against-all war," Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi, head of the Russian military general staff's Main Operations Department, according to the state-run Tass Russian News Agency.

"Utterly unacceptable are the United States' attempts at creating a quasi-state on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. We see that in these areas not only U.S.-controlled bodies of power are being created, but their own armed forces formed," he added.

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Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami attends the VII Moscow Conference on International Security in Moscow, April 4, 2018. Delegations from 95 countries, not including the U.S., attended the major event. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami took his sentiments a step further, accusing the U.S. of trying to divide the entire Islamic World. In addition to being at odds in Syria, the U.S. and Iran also fall on opposite ends of a regional contest of influence between revolutionary Shiite Muslim republic of Iran and conservative Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has been a key ally of Washington. The U.S. has also attempted to discourage Iraqi participation in the anti-ISIS alliance of Syria, Iran and Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah, considered a terrorist organization by the State Department.

"The development and prosperity of Muslim countries is a source of concern for some players, particularly the United States. They are well aware of the fact that, if there is unity and cohesion in the Islamic world, the overall security regime will become a powerful system from the point of view of geopolitics," Hatami said, according to Tass.

"They spare no effort to hinder the creation of the Central Asian security system, because they believe that any consolidation in the security sphere runs counter to the interests of retaining the strength of America's power, standing and dominance in the world," he added.

Russia and Iran have invited pro-opposition power Turkey to a trilateral Syrian peace process based in the Kazakh capital of Astana, where the leaders of the three countries held their most recent round of talks Wednesday. Russian warplanes and Iran-backed militias have played a major role in restoring much of the country to Assad, who has called on the U.S. and Turkish forces to leave immediately.

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U.S. soldiers stand at attention during a visit of a U.S. delegation to the YPG-held northern Syrian city of Manbij, where the U.S. has a military presence, March 22, 2018. Many U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters have fled the U.S.-led battle against ISIS in the oil-rich east to defend against a Turkish incursion in the north. DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. and Turkey, united by their opposition to Assad, have been at odds over the Pentagon's support for Kurdish groups, which Ankara considered to be terrorist organizations due to their alleged links to the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party. A number of Kurdish fighters have left the U.S.-led coalition battle to take on Turkish and allied Syrian rebel forces in the northwest, where the Kurds have allied with pro-Syrian government forces.

The remaining majority-Arab component of the Syrian Democratic Forces has clashed with pro-Syrian government forces near in Syria's oil-rich east, where elements of ISIS remained active. Also speaking at the Moscow International Security Conference, Syrian Deputy Defense Minister Mahmoud al-Shawa said at the Moscow security conference that the U.S. remained active in the eastern Euphrates region to maintain a stake in the natural resources there.

"The United States decided to invent various pretexts to justify keeping the illegal presence of their bases and troops on Syrian soil with the goal of establishing control and domination over oil fields and dividing Syria through the so-called federation project," he said, according to Tass.

With ISIS largely defeated, President Donald Trump has suggested a speedy exit from Syria, but some of his advisers and experts have pushed back.

Russia, Iran and Syria Say U.S. Making Things Worse For Their Own War On Terror | World