Russian defense ministry spokesman Maj.-General Igor Konashenkov Tuesday accused the United States of deliberately reducing air strikes in Iraq, to allow the jihadists to stream across into eastern Syria and slow the Russian-backed advance of the Syrian army. As a result, ISIS in large numbers had reached Deir ez-Zour and were digging in on the left bank of the River Euphrates. The Russian spokesman said Syrian troops were in the midst of trying to push Islamic State out of the city of al-Mayadin, southeast of Deir al-Zor, but that ISIS was reinforcing its ranks there with “foreign mercenaries” pouring in from Iraq.
DEBKAfile: The Russian charge against the US is unfounded. Moscow is trying the blame game to divert attention from the grave shortage of ground troops for the Russian-backed Syrian offensive against ISIS strongholds in eastern Syria. The only credible fighting force on this front is provided by Hizballah.