Why ISIS is here to stay
The Russian Air Force carried out its first airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday on President Vladimir Putin’s direct orders. Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defense,announced that “warplanes of the Russian Air Space Forces today have started an aerial operation, involving pinpoint strikes on ground targets of Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists in Syria.” Russia’s Rossiya 24 channel said that the first airstrikes were carried out by two Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft 213km north of the Syrian capital of Damascus near the city of Hama.
However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 27 civilians killed with dozens wounded in airstrikes carried out by warplanes on towns and cities north of Homs, not Hama, and official US sources doubted that the strikes targted ISIS-held territory.
Russian news wire ITAR-TASS reported that the Russian Federal Council approved a request by Putin to use the army in Syria, but that Russia would only use its air force in Syria and that there would be no troops on the ground.
Analysts say that these developments clearly show that Russia’s military presence in Syria is far from helping the fight against ISIS and is only complicating a conflict that was already destabilizing the region. “Russia’s presence in Syria also creates an alternative coalition against ISIS based on the Shiite alliance of Iran, Iraq, Lebanese Hezbollah and the Syrian Alawite militias, Iulian Chifu, president of the Center for Conflict Analysis and Early Warning told NOW. “This threatens to collide directly with the interests of the Western powers, Gulf States and Turkey. We’re just assisting to the polarization of a regional conflict that grew to have a stake at the international level.” Chifu also said Russia would not deploy troops on the ground to fight ISIS because its military build-up, its anti-missile defense systems and naval capabilities have nothing to do with the terrorist group. “It all has to do with Russia’s own boosted military presence in the eastern Mediterranean.”
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