MOSCOW, Russia on Wednesday criticized the U.S. State Department’s suggestion that its use of an Iranian air base to attack Islamic State rebels in Syria violated a U.N. resolution, saying the U.S. officials need to brush up on their geography.
“It is not our rule to give advice to the leadership of the U.S. State Department,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a statement, “However, it is difficult to refrain from recommending checking the reasoning ability and the knowledge of basic documents of the international law by separate representatives of the State Department … Moreover, we advise representatives of the U.S. State Department once again to work on outline maps and to discover the fact that Syria is a separate sovereign state.”
A second round of airstrikes from Iran’s Hamedan air base, following airstrikes Tuesday, destroyed two Islamic State command posts and killed at least 150 people, Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced.
Russia is involved in the Syrian war in defense of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, and said the attacks Wednesday hit suspected positions of the Islamic State and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front.
Deployment of Russian planes from Iranian territory marks an acceleration of military cooperation between the two countries, as well as an expansion of the war in Syria, issues which have raised Washington’s concern. After Tuesday’s attacks, the State Department said it would investigate if Russia’s actions complied with the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 2231, passed in 2015, which calls for U.N. consent before the “supply, sale or transfer” of military equipment within Iran.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said Wednesday: “There are no reasons to suspect Russia of breaking the U.N. resolution. Russia hasn’t supplied or transferred Russian military planes to Iran.”
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Tuesday that Iranian involvement in the Russian airstrikes was “unfortunate but not surprising or unexpected, and I think it speaks to the continuation of a pattern that we’ve seen of Russia continuing to carry out airstrikes, now, it appears, with Iran’s direct assistance.”