Russia has described Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the “brainchild” of the US, saying Moscow still cannot verify Washington’s claim about the Daesh leader’s elimination.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that Washington had facilitated the creation of Daesh and that Baghdadi “is (or was, if he is already dead) a brainchild of the United States.”
“Daesh arose after the illegal invasion in Iraq, the collapse of the Iraqi state and the release of extremists from prisons by the Americans. Therefore, to a certain extent, the Americans eliminated the one they gave birth to, if it actually happened,” he told Russia-24 news channel.
In a televised address, US President Donald Trump announced last week that Baghdadi had blown himself up and died “like a dog” after American forces trapped him inside a dead-end tunnel during a raid in Syria’s northwestern Idlib Province on October 27.
However, the US did not show Baghdadi’s remains and claimed they were dumped at sea within 24 hours of his death.
Lavrov stressed that his country wanted “more information” on the alleged killing of Baghdadi at the hands of American troops
“Everything was solemnly and triumphantly announced, but our military is still studying additional facts, and they cannot confirm yet much of what the US has said,” he said.
Trump’s statement on the killing of Baghdadi was met with skepticism even inside Washington, with US Central Command chief General Frank McKenzie saying he could not confirm that Baghdadi was “whimpering and crying” in his final moments as the US president claimed.
Lavrov’s remarks about Daesh’s birth as a result of US policies echo Trump’s own views during the 2016 presidential campaign, where he named former President Barack Obama and his secretary of state for five years, Hillary Clinton, as the main founders of the terror outfit.
“In fact, in many respects, you know they honor President Obama, Isis is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS. He is the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder. He founded ISIS,” he said during a rally in August 2018, using an acronym for Daesh.
“And I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton. Co-founder. Crooked Hillary Clinton,” Trump added.
Trump claims US knows Baghdadi’s successor
In a related development on Friday, Trump claimed that the US knows Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, who was named by Daesh as the group’s new chief.
“ISIS has a new leader. We know exactly who he is!” Trump tweeted.
On the contrary, Nathan Sales, the US State Department counterterrorism coordinator, provided no details on Hashimi, saying Washington was still “looking into the leader, his role, the organization where he came from.”
Lavrov: US backs White Helmets, sells Syria oil
Additionally, in his Friday remarks, Lavrov said the US continues to support ”provocateurs called the White Helmets” operating in areas controlled by the al-Nusra Front terrorist outfit in Idlib, warning that “provocations involving chemical weapons may occur at any time.”
The White Helmets claims to be a humanitarian NGO, but it has been accused of working with anti-Damascus terrorists and staging false-flag chemical weapons attacks in Syria. The Syrian government considers the organization “a branch of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra” and a “PR stunt” by the US, the UK and France.
Lavrov further accused the US of using the revenue from selling Syrian oil to prop up allied armed groups in Syria.
“Oil is transported out of Syria and, of course, the United States supports loyal armed groups with the revenues from [selling] that oil,” he said.
While detailing the operation that purportedly led to Baghdadi’s death, Trump said American troops would remain in Syria to “secure” oil reserves and even put up “a hell of a fight” against any force that tried to take them.
He also expressed interest in making a deal with ExxonMobil or another energy company to tap Syrian oil reserves.
The following day, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper threatened that American forces deployed around Syrian oil fields will use “military force” against any party that may seek to challenge Washington’s control of those sites, even if it is Syrian government forces or their Russian allies.