Russia calls on anti-IS forces to prevent 'IS retreat'

Russia calls on anti-IS forces to prevent 'IS retreat'
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called for united efforts from anti-IS forces to prevent the militants retreating from Mosul into Syria.
2 min read
28 October, 2016
Iraqi forces are launching a huge offensive on Mosul [Anadolu]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called forces fighting the Islamic State group to work together and stop the the militants fleeing Mosul for Syria.

Iraqi and Kurdish forces have started as assault on the IS-held city, capturing neighbouring villages and poised to attack Mosul proper.

With the city nearly surrounded and looking likely to fall within weeks, reports have emerged of leading IS figures fleeing the city to the group's self-declared "capital" Raqqa, in eastern Syria.

Russia says it wants to work with anti-IS forces - including the US - to stop the militants retreating over the border.

"We are interested in cooperation with our Iraqi colleagues to take measures to prevent the outflow of terrorists from Mosul with their weapons, which of course will exacerbate the situation in Syria," Lavrov said.

Lavrov is currently holding talks with his Iranian and Syrian counterparts Mohammad Javad Zarif and Walid Muallem in Moscow.

"We will discuss this with the United States and other members of the coalition," he said.

The offensive to recapture Iraq's second city, launched on 17 October and backed by a US-led coalition.

Russia's defence ministry last week urged the coalition not to "drive terrorists" from Iraq to Syria during the offensive, warning it of the risk of "freely roaming" IS jihadi gangs.

The US said Thursday that up to 900 IS militants have been killed in the offensive so far as Iraqi forces allied with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have taken a string of towns and villages in a cautious but steady advance.

Western leaders have meanwhile accused Moscow of committing possible war crimes in the Syrian city of Aleppo through indiscriminate bombing while regime forces launched an offensive.

The rebels have since then began a counter-offensive against regime forces, to break a siege on East Aleppo.

The Russian defence ministry has said that neither Syrian nor its war planes have bombed Aleppo for 10 days.

Russia has meanwhile denied any role in deadly air strikes on a Syrian school in the rebel-held province of Idlib that killed 22 children.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the strikes had been carried out by "warplanes - either Russian or Syrian".

Lavrov repeated Moscow's denial of involvement in the attack on Friday, saying that the defence ministry has published "information with facts that refute these claims and show the fabricated nature of this disinformation."