On the same day that Islamic State fighters carried out an attack which killed four American citizens and 10 others in Manbij, Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement claiming that the U.S. was preparing to accuse Russia of supporting the terrorist group.The statement accused the U.S. of doing just that.
“We have recently received information saying that the US security services are preparing a series of bogus stories to be published in the media of Afghanistan and some Western countries, aimed at discrediting Russia’s policy related to Afghanistan,” the Russian Foreign Ministry statement read. “In particular, they plan to accuse our country of assisting ISIS, including in the redeployment of their militants from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan.”
The ministry cited no evidence, no examples of such stories and did not explain how it knew what the “U.S. security services” supposedly planned to do.
The statement shifted from Syria to Afghanistan, where the Islamic State operates under the name “Islamic State Khorasan Province,” also known as ISKP or ISIS-K. It claimed that unidentified helicopters have supposedly provided ammunition and supplies to ISKP fighters, but provided no specific details about the alleged supply missions, including where they took place.
Here is how the full statement we’re fact checking reads:
“We are referring to the recent statement made by the Taliban about the targeted raid by the US special task force to capture a Taliban prison in the Afghan province of Badghis, where ISIS militants have been held since being captured in northern Afghanistan in August 2018. All of the militants were moved by the special task force to an unknown destination. According to some reports, citizens of Russia and Central Asian countries could be among them. Such an interest in ISIS militants suggests that the US might have been trying to prevent a leak of information regarding what the ISIS members could reveal about their real sponsors.”
This statement has a familiar ring to it.Russian sources have previously made similar claims involving mysterious helicopters they said provided support to Islamic State fighters. Last year, Polygaph.info debunked such a story originating in Syria. In that case, the Russian source provided a video of an actual helicopter, which we verified was registered to a U.S-based firm. The U.S. military does not use the kind of helicopter. The Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement also rehashed claims that Polygraph.info dealt with last year regarding the Islamic State’s presence in Afghanistan.
Perhaps the oddest claim involved the alleged U.S. special operations raid on a Taliban prison facility in the Afghan province of Badghis. Citing only the Taliban as a source, the Russian Foreign Ministry claimed without evidence that the U.S. took the Islamic State prisoners away from the facility in order to conceal who is secretly sponsoring the group.
In reality, the United States has been leading a coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria since 2014 and, together with its allies, conducted thousands of airstrikes against Islamic State targets. U.S. forces have also been active on the ground in Syria and Iraq.
In Afghanistan, the U.S. has led international coalitions since October 7, 2001, shortly after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon near Washington, DC.
“The U.S. rules of engagement allow for operations against Al Qaeda,
the Islamic State (as of January 2016), and associated groups by affiliation, and against the Taliban and other insurgent groups if they pose an imminent threat to U.S. forces or the ANDSF (the Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces) and the Afghan government (since June 2016),” stated a Congressional Research Service report on Afghanistan dated December 2017.
In Syria, the U.S. and its coalition partners have backed the Syrian Democratic Forces, which pushed the Islamic State out of the urban areas it had occupied, including Raqqa, which was the group’s de facto capital.
Al Jazeera, an international news organization based in Dubai, states plainly:
“The US has armed anti-Assad rebel groups and led an international coalition bombing ISIL targets since 2014,” in an explainer dated April 2018.
And in fact, Russian officials have accused the U.S. of being too harsh in fighting the Islamic State, particularly in carrying out airstrikes.
Despite its losses at the hands of the coalition, the Islamic State has proven a resilient enemy in Syria and Afghanistan, as recent events in both countries have shown. But U.S. efforts against the group are well documented and supported by evidence, unlike the Russian Foreign Ministry’s claims of secret support.
Additionally, Polygraph.info provided the statement fact checked here to U.S. military officials for comment. If the Pentagon comments, we will add those to this fact check.
Without any evidence provided by Russian sources, along with overwhelming substantiation of the U.S. missions in Syria and Afghanistan, we confident state the claim is false.