The US invasion and occupation of Iraq helped to create the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group, a former American commander says.
Michael Flynn, former commander of US special forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, said if there was no US war on Iraq, Dash wouldn’t exist today.
“We were too dumb,” Flynn told German newspaper Der Spiegel in an interview published on Sunday. “We didn't understand who we had there at that moment.”
“It was huge error,” said the general, who was America's highest ranking military intelligence official. “As brutal as Saddam Hussein was, it was a mistake to just eliminate him.”
Flynn, who served in the US Army for more than 30 years, said, “First we went to Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda was based, then we went to Iraq. Instead of asking ourselves why the phenomenon of terror occurred, we were looking for locations.”
“This is a major lesson we must learn in order not to make the same mistakes again,” he added.
The US invaded Iraq in March 2003 under the pretext of finding weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons, however, were ever found in Iraq.
The invasion plunged Iraq into chaos, resulting in years of deadly violence and the rise of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, which was a precursor of Daesh.
Violence has plagued the northern and western parts of Iraq as well as large swathes of Syria ever since Daesh terrorists launched their offensive in the two neighboring countries.
The US and its regional allies have been carrying out airstrikes in Syria for more than a year now. Russia has also been conducting airstrikes on Daesh positions at the request of the Syrian government since September 30.
Flynn said Washington needs to "work constructively with Russia."
He said, "Whether we like it or not’ Russia made a decision to be there and to act militarily. They are there, and this has dramatically changed the dynamic.”
“So you can't say Russia is bad, they have to go home. It's not going to happen," he added.
The United States has accused Russia of targeting “moderate” militants instead of ISIL terrorists. However, Russia has denounced the accusations as baseless, saying they are attacking both pro- and anti-Western terrorists wreaking havoc in Syria.
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