Russia’s foreign minister said Tuesday that US support of Iraqi efforts to recapture Mosul from jihadists was equivalent to Moscow’s backing of a Syrian government offensive to seize rebel-held eastern Aleppo.
“They are preparing an operation to liberate Mosul from terrorists,” Russian news agencies quoted Sergei Lavrov as saying.
“And in Aleppo, the city needs to be freed from terrorists. With the exact same plea as we made in Aleppo, the American coalition is appealing to residents in Mosul, calling on them to leave. Just like in Aleppo, humanitarian corridors have been set up.”
Lavrov said that his American counterpart John Kerry had assured him that the situation in Mosul was “completely different” from that in Aleppo.
“In Mosul we planned in advance, while in Aleppo, you didn’t plan and civilians are suffering,” Kerry said, according to Lavrov.
The West has accused Moscow of perpetrating potential war crimes in Aleppo through indiscriminate bombing in support of a Syrian government offensive to retake total control over the city.
Nearly 500 people have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded since the Syrian army, backed by Russian airpower, launched an operation to recapture eastern Aleppo on September 22.
A ceasefire meant to allow civilians and armed combatants to leave rebel-held eastern Aleppo ended at the weekend, with Moscow on Monday ruling out an extension of the truce for the time being.
Russian officials have repeatedly criticised the US-led coalition’s support of the Iraqi offensive on Mosul. On Tuesday, Iraqi forces were inching to within striking distance of the city’s east.
Russia’s defence ministry last week urged the coalition not to “drive terrorists” from Iraq to Syria during the offensive, warning it against the risk of “freely roaming” gangs of jihadists from the Islamic State group in the Middle East.
President Vladimir Putin earlier this month called on the US-led coalition to avoid civilian casualties in the Mosul offensive, as Moscow faced growing criticism over its bombing of Aleppo.