Syria flying Russia-supplied Drones, Fighter Jets against ISIL/ Daesh

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The puzzle of Russian intentions in Syria will likely be revealed by president Vladimir Putin at the UN next week. Putin will meet US president Barack Obama on Monday and will address the UN. In the meantime, there are signs that Russian arms supplies to the Bashar al-Assad regime are beginning to make an impact in the fighting.

The Arabic press is reporting that the regime of Bashar al-Assad is flying Russian fighter jets recently delivered by Moscow to Syria against positions of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) in eastern Aleppo province, where a Syrian airbase is under siege by the extremist fighters.

At the same time, the Damascus regime for the first time has flown drones against the extremist groups.

Syrian ambassador to Russia Riyadh Haddad said that so far, the only troops fighting Daesh on the ground in Syria are those of the Syrian Arab Army (i.e. the Baath regime of Bashar al-Assad). But, he added, if it became necessary, Russia would send its own troops into the fight.

Vladimir Gundarov writes in Defense and Security, according to BBC Monitoring, on the question of whether there are Russian forces in Syria:

“Yes, there are Russian units, Russian weapons, and Russian military hardware in Syria.

There is the 720th Sustainment Center in Tartus, and it is not exactly manned by Martians. There are Russian ships in the Mediterranean that have to be manned as well. There may even be a Russian submarine there. Interfax new agency quoted its Western sources as saying in the first half of September that five large amphibious ships loaded with military hardware were sailing from Russia to Syria.

Foreign media outlets already reported these Russian ship’s participation in what they called Operation Syrian Express aimed to supply the Syrian regular army. This latter was using Russian weapons in the war with terrorists, according to Reuters. This news agency appraised Russian weapons as precise and effective.”

After an initial wave of near-hysteria over the Russian moves in Syria (so far miniscule), the United States seems to be getting more used to the idea. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is admitting that there could be areas of shared interests for Russia and the US in Syria (e.g. against Daesh). Likewise, the US now seems willing to negotiate with al-Assad.

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Related video:

Syria war: Russia expands its military presence in Syria by building two new bases – TomoNews

11 Responses

  1. My first thought on the video cover picture of the “Syria War: Russia expands its military presence……” is of the innocent, ignorant brainwashed young Russian boys that are going to kill whoever they are told is the enemy or that are going to die. Just like most of the young boys in almost all stupid wars. Oh, I forgot to remember that all the leaders and generals know what they’re doing?

    The billions, if not trillions of dollars, the human power and billions of human hours that goes into these stupid religious and power struggle wars is insane. A pure waste for most of the wars.

    Who gains from these wars? The military industry complexes and corrupt billionaires and their corporations around the world including in the USA.

    Diplomacy and a new UN Military many times stronger and more powerful than “any other” might help to shut down all the MIC’s, big and small. And, not just Non-Proliferation Treaties of Nuclear Weapons , but Non-Proliferation Treaties of National Militaries might be worth considering.

    A waste of trillions if not quadrillions of dollars and quadrillions of human hours…..

    Enough is enough!

  2. Has the Russian presence had any effect on Assad’s barrel-bombing? I have not found any reports one way or another specifically about this. Every barrel bomb (and whatever else links the regime with innocent casualties) is a gift to ISIS.

  3. Likewise, the US now seems willing to negotiate with al-Assad.

    Actually, there is a de facto united front of Russia, Israel, the USA, and Iran against not only ISIS but any threat to the Assadist dictatorship. By intervening against ISIS, Russia allows the Syrian air force to step up its horrific bombing of rebel controlled areas like Douma, hence increasing the amount of refugees flowing out of Syria. I wonder why someone as astute as Juan Cole has so much trouble seeing this.

    • “Likewise, the US now seems willing to negotiate with al-Assad.”
      Actually, the US wants to negotiate Assad’s surrender, Assad wants to negotiate Rebel surrender and the Rebels are not united or “astute” enough to negotiate themselves out of a wet paper bag.
      So there will be no negotiations, till Assad is out of barrel bombs or Syria out of knuckle dragging thugs, which seem unlikely. Only arming Assad, Sisi , Houthis , Kurds and all other minorities, can curtail the Salafi zeal for destruction.

  4. Now Russia will have it’s own Iraq war…as they didnt learn their lesson in Afghanistan …

  5. Russia has practical and strategic interests in Syria and is, I imagine, as anxious as others express themselves to be to bring an end to the bloodfest in Syria. Putin has been patient with the nonsense that has been going on there but the time has come for him, however reluctantly, to roll up his sleeves and try to sort out the mess by strengthening the regime’s military ability to clear out all the insurgents and restore a semblance of order. Doubtless he hopes his efforts will accomplish this and he won’t have to get his own feet wet. However, Lavrov seems to have made it quite clear that if necessary that is exactly what he will do. This may puzzle Kerry but then the State Department as a singular capacity for puzzlement these days

  6. When those footing the bill for Russia to become involved in this conflict run out of funds to support, Russia will withdraw. The U.S. which funds wars on the backs of TAXPAYERS will step in and we will have yet another interminable Middle East military involvement which benefits the MIC and furthers the oligarchy which has become our country.

    Remember – TWO BUSH – THREE WARS!

  7. Louis Proyect is right. Problem is Assad won’t just use the Russian weapons to get a handle on IS/Daesh.

  8. Can anyone tell me the last time that the involvement of an outside power into the Middle East worked out well for the outside power? The then Soviet Union inserted over 100,000 troops into Afghanistan. How well did that work out? The idea that somehow now Russian involvement into Syria will bring a lot of benefits to Russia or will somehow stabilize the Middle East flies in the face of past history and experience. Even if they are “successful”, whatever that means, there basically is not much of a Syria left. Whatever Syria emerges after this civil war is going to be an economic and social basket case. Only fools would rush into this mess.

  9. Some things really never change:
    The “ten thousand” marched inland and fought the Battle of Cunaxa and then marched back to Greece during the years 401 BC to 399 BC. Xenophon stated in The Anabasis that the Greek heavy troops scattered their opposition twice during the battle; only one Greek was even wounded. Only after the battle did they hear that Cyrus had been killed, making their victory irrelevant and the expedition a failure.

    The “ten thousand” were in the middle of a very large empire with no food, no employer, and no reliable friends. They offered to make their Persian ally Ariaeus king, but he refused on the grounds that he was not of royal blood and so would not find enough support among the Persians to succeed. They offered their services to Tissaphernes, a leading satrap of Artaxerxes, but he refused them, and they refused to surrender to him. Tissaphernes was left with a problem; a large army of heavy troops, which he could not defeat by frontal assault. He supplied them with food and, after a long wait, led them northwards for home, meanwhile detaching Ariaeus and his light troops from their cause.

    The Greek senior officers accepted the invitation of Tissaphernes to a feast, where they were made prisoner, taken up to the king, and decapitated. The Greeks then elected new officers and set out to march northwards to the Black Sea through Corduene and Armenia. Xenophon records the joyful moment when the “ten thousand” (by then actually far fewer) finally saw the sea, signifying their escape, whereupon they shouted Thalatta! Thalatta! (“The Sea! The Sea!”).[1]

  10. Russia has successfully suppressed Muslim extremists within its borders and defeated some small states that got too big for their britches. The Russians will be ruthless if necessary but they tend to get the job done. Afghanistan was an outlier (plus the trouble for the Soviets didn’t really begin until the US and its proxies started to arm the mujahedin with advanced weapons, esp. anti-aircraft missiles) — and NO ONE has a cakewalk in Afghanistan, even an army with less scruples than the Americans. But with Syria, the Near East, the British, Ottomans, and French have a history of conquering or ruling these regions and I could see the Russians assisting a rump government in Damascus in doing something similar. The US is the country that doesn’t seem to understand how to occupy a foreign land in a way that doesn’t breed such resentment that insurgencies develop and multiply.

    I’m not advocating for Russian intervention, only saying that historically, it isn’t unreasonable for an outside power to decide to step in and sort out the local chaos. That’s what Europeans did for most of the 19th and early 20th centuries. I wish the French Foreign Legion had been sent to Syria long ago, for that matter. They would have stopped ISIS/Daesh and saved Palmyra, at the least. That is a very self-sufficient and capable reaction force but France doesn’t seem willing to commit it lately, apart from Mali. And it would be a good model for how a genuinely effective UN “firefighter” force might operate.

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