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Russia’s policy in Syria wrong-headed: Carter

Washington: Russia’s policy in Syria is wrong-headed and would end up in boosting extremism, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said today.

“They (Russians) are pouring gasoline on the civil war in Syria by supporting Iraq. They’re going to enhance the very extremism that they say they fear and they have ever reason to fear, because now ISIL and other groups, including Syrian opposition groups of all stripes, are turned against Russia,” Carter said in his appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Russia has had very bitter experience with extremism in their own country. This is why their actions are not consistent with their words and I keep using the phrase, wrong-headed. They say they’re doing one thing and they’re actually doing another,” Carter said in response to a question.

However, Carter said the US will not change its policy in Syria.

“We have certainly indicated that we intend to prosecute our counter-ISIL campaign unchanged. And we don’t intend to make any changes in it; we’re determined to do that. We haven’t,” he said.

Carter said the Russian support to Assad is having the effect of increasing and catalysing the opposition to Assad.

“I believe that both the Russians and the Syrians will see the effects of that on the battlefield. There will be conditioned by a military situation on the ground there,” he said.

Responding to a question, Carter said Russian President Vladimir Putin support to the Assad regime is aimed at preventing a collapse of Syria State.

“I can’t say what Vladimir Putin is thinking about Assad’s future, but I can tell you what his behaviour suggests.

And that is that he is — does want to support — at least for now — Assad, avoid the collapse of the Syrian state, which I think he believed could occur, and that was one of the things that spurred his enhanced support for Assad,” he said.

“I think that it’s going to backfire, have the opposite of the affect that he is seeking. It enhances the opposition to Assad and it also enhances the extremism he says he fears. So it’s not a very sensible strategy, but that appears to be what his behaviours suggest,” Carter said.