As the air group of the Russian Air and Space Forces is bombing facilities of Islamic State ever more intensively, the information war against Moscow is developing more heavily. The Western media are still stating that, as a result of activities by Russian Air and Space Forces, civilians of Syria are being killed. Today Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met the United Nations’ Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, and called for the organization not to use unapproved data on the Russian operation in Syria.
As Maria Zakharova, Representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, explained: “Almost on a daily basis we hear repetitive statements of our American colleagues, who say that Russia is allegedly attacking the wrong targets in Syria. A few days ago it was mentioned by the U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Tefft, who stressed that Russia was attacking opponents of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad rather than ISIS targets. However, we register the absence of precise information which the State Department could present during regular briefings. You recently saw that official representatives of the U.S. State Department avoided answering, i.e. they simply couldn’t answer the question about what hospitals and civil facilities were mentioned by American officials who accused Russia of destroying civil infrastructure.”
According to Zakharova, it’s like a vicious circle: “At first, American officials say that Russia is attacking ‘the wrong targets and striking civilian infrastructure’, then their statements are quoted by the media. And then our specific questions, in particular, the State Department spokesman spoke about it at the briefing, confirming the alleged information that the US had concerning the targets which were attacked by the Russian aerospace forces, answered that this information is taken from public sources, in particular from the media.
At first, information is thrown to the media with reference to unknown sources in Pentagon, the State Department, and other structures; then it is confirmed by statements by the Ambassador, State Department officials; then it is published by the media; and then American officials refer to journalist materials.”
Zakharova calls the tactics “pure information propaganda”: “The closure between officials and the media disorients society, while we are being blamed without any facts or data. Until now, we have not received official information from Washington. Everything begins and ends in the public sphere, at briefings and press conferences.”
The Representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry notes that Moscow has many times asked the U.S. to present data on the so-called moderate Syrian opposition: “The US blames us for working on these targets all the time, destroying their infrastructure and killing representatives of the opposition. We requested information on the moderate opposition, but no one responded to us. It seems the information is kept secret intentionally to have grounds for criticizing us and accusing us of attacking representatives of the opposition. The beginning of practical contacts between the Russian military and representatives of the Syrian opposition will ruin the usual American theory that Russia is attacking the armed opposition rather than ISIS. Our Western partners didn’t want to present the necessary data to us, but we managed to find them ourselves, building necessary contacts. And that’s how we will work.”
Zakharova says that the important point is the establishment of direct contacts between the Russian Defense Ministry and representatives of several armed groups in Syria which hold positions of non-acceptance of terrorism and extremism. It allowed to proceed to the practical coordination of activities with them, including in delivering strikes on terrorists. “After the terrorist groups were driven out of a number of important areas, the return of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons to their homes became possible, which is confirmed by the UN sources, United Nations sources. At the same time, terrorist groups still retain significant potential, being able to regularly replenish their needs in manpower and weaponry. Militants stubbornly oppose government forces, in some areas they are moving to a counteroffensive, making changes to tactics in order to minimize their losses as a result of strikes of the aerospace forces of Russia,” Zakharova states.
Speaking about the prospects of a political process between the Syrian government and the opposition, she said: “During the preparation for the next meeting of the ‘Group of Syria’s support’ in Vienna, in contact with leading international and regional players, we intend to work towards development of a common and unambiguous understanding of which of the existing armed groups in Syria are terrorist, as well as to clarify the situation regarding a joint delegation from the Syrian opposition for talks with the authorities of Syria, as was described in the Geneva communiqué of June 30, 2012.”