Russia has sent dozens of fighter jets and helicopter gunships to Syria as he steps up his support for Assad, the country’s president, in the fight against Isil jihadists.
Iraq will begin sharing “security and intelligence” information with Russia, Syria and Iran to help combat the advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS,) the Iraqi military announced Sunday.
Exactly what Russia intends with its rapidly growing deployment of troops, tanks and combat aircraft in the Assad family heartland on Syria’s northern coast is difficult to discern, according to military experts and U.S. officials, who say they were not consulted on the Russian moves and were caught off guard by the intervention.
Putin, Moscow suggests, is doing what hapless Barack Obama cannot: showing a lead in tackling the black-flagged, black-hearted standard-bearers of global Islamist jihadism. The reality is considerably less hopeful. By recklessly raising the military stakes in the Syrian cauldron, by acting unilaterally and without any manner of UN or collective mandate, by threatening to send aircraft into areas where American, Turkish and other anti-Isis forces are operating, Putin risks further complicating an already fiendishly complicated conflict.
Moscow could be seeking to ensure the security of its Tartus naval base in Syria, it could be doubling down on its efforts to safeguard the Assad regime or it could be seeking to add force to allow it to attack both Islamic State in Syria and moderate opposition forces in the country.