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Russia’s Syria Campaign: Top 5 Achievements No One Mentions


President Vladimir Putin caused a stir when he announced the withdrawal of Russian forces deployed to Syria to fight Daesh and other terrorist groups. Moscow’s operation has been largely hailed as a success, but several major achievements of the limited engagement have mostly remained unacknowledged.

These include eliminating top terrorist commanders, key victories on the battlefield and ammunition recycling.

Targeting terrorist leaders

In late December, one of the most powerful terrorist leaders – the commander of Jaysh al-Islam – was killed in an air attack conducted by Russia warplanes. The operation targeted a meeting of high profile rebels, including Zahran Alloush, in Eastern Ghouta.

Jaysh al-Islam, the largest rebel group around Damascus, is trying to create an Islamic caliphate in Syria. The organization, that has as many as 25,000 members, has received support from Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Thanks to Russia’s efforts, the group lost several of its key leaders in what is known as a “decapitation” strike, a strategy, which is aimed at tackling a terrorist group by killing its senior commanders.

Russian forces also eliminated other rebel leaders, but Alloush, who was also one of spiritual jihadist leaders, is the most prominent one.

Russia launched its counterterrorist operation in Syria on September 30, 2015, at a time when the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) was locked in several battles and largely losing ground.

In the several weeks that followed, the SAA assisted by Russian warplanes lifted the three-year-long siege of a secluded Kuweires (Kweiris) military airbase. The offensive against Daesh has also helped to cut a major terrorist supply route to Aleppo, the largest city in the country.

In addition, Damascus-led forces


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