Russian propaganda outlet Pravda implied in a report this week that U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) wants to fund arms for the Islamic State, to be used to shoot down Russian fighter jets.
In an article titled, “John McCain wants terrorists to shoot down Russian aircraft in Syria,” Pravda claims Sen. McCain “wants ISIS terrorists to be armed with anti-aircraft weapons to shoot Russian aircraft down.” They cite an interview McCain gave to Fox News’s Neil Cavuto.
Pravda did not link to the interview mentioned, in which McCain not only does not mention the Islamic State, but mentions a rival militia, the Free Syrian Army. This is what McCain said (emphasis added):
CAVUTO: Senator, if you were president in the middle of all of this, and you know or you’re charging, as did just now — and I assume you know more than I do — that the Russian fighters are targeting the very groups we are trying to help, would you shoot down those Russian planes?
MCCAIN: No, but I would certainly make it clear — well, I would do a whole lot of things.
General David Petraeus testified before the Armed Services Committee two weeks ago. He laid out what we need to do. We need to stop the barrel bombing. We need to have a no-fly zone. We need to have a buffer zone for refugees. We need to provide certain kinds of help.
CAVUTO: No, I know that, Senator, but if they’re attacking the very guys who we want to see topple Assad, you would let America planes just pass them and let them do that?
MCCAIN: No, but I might do what we did in Afghanistan many years ago, to give those guys the ability to shoot down those planes. That equipment is available.
CAVUTO: Who would be shooting them down?
MCCAIN: The Free Syrian Army, just like the Afghans shot down the Russian…
CAVUTO: Not us?
MCCAIN: No. Just like the Russians — the Afghans shot down Russian planes after Russia invaded Afghanistan.
Russia has sided with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad when the civil war began over four years ago. Since then, the Russian government has encouraged other countries to band together with Assad to defeat ISIS. The international community, including the U.S., wants Assad out as leader of Syria.
After many failed attempts at persuasion, the Russians began an airstrike campaign in Syria on September 30. Russia’s Defense Ministry has insisted the forces will target places occupied by ISIS. However, the attacks allegedly hit areas held by groups opposing Assad in Homs and Hama provinces. Local opposition groups say that the planes hit Zafaraneh, Rastan, and Talbiseh, which do not house ISIS.