Moscow found itself “in a fray” and no longer claims to be a leader in resolving the “Syrian issue”.
The victory, the final defeat of ISIS in Syria, was announced at the end of 2017, when the last stronghold of jihadists Al-Bukemal fell on the banks of the Euphrates. At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial withdrawal of Aero-Space Forces units from Syria. It might seem that the military part of the operation in this country has already ended, and it remains only to “clear” some areas of the remnants of the gangs. In fact, everything turned out not so rosy – the war in Syria continues, now with the participation of Turkey, whose troops invaded Syrian Kurdistan, supposedly to create a buffer zone with a length of 500 kilometers and a depth of 30 kilometers.
Moscow, which considers the territory of this Arab republic as a single indivisible and sovereign state, which is a member of the UN, is now silent. Unlike the United States, where President Donald Trump threatened to “destroy the Turkish economy” if Ankara “crossed the borders” of what was permitted and promised to deliver a “strong blow” if Turkey did not “play by the rules”. At the same time, Trump himself ordered the withdrawal of American units from the north-eastern part of Syria, where attack strikes of the Turkish army are now directed. What is happening in Syria, where the “degree of war” again rises to critical? Who untied Erdogan? And what could be the benefit of Russia here?
Let us turn to the events of August 2015, when the Russian air forces came to the aid of the Syrian army at the request of the legitimate president of this country, Bashar al-Assad. Then practically no one in the world believed that the alliance of Moscow, Damascus, Tehran and Hezbollah (a militant Lebanese Shiite organization) would be able to oppose ISIS. ISIS militants at that time, starting in 2011, completely repainted the political map of Syria, where they seized power. The key figures here were the cutthroats of Abu – Umar al-Baghdadi, Ayyub al-Masri, Suleiman en Naira and the fighters of a smaller injury. All of them were eventually eliminated by the Syrian government army, not without the help, of course, of the Russian “comrades”. The losses of the terrorists at that time were comparable to the large-scale military operations of World War II. In general, complete defeat and destruction.
Everyone understood that without the support of the Russian air forces, the Syrian Arab army would hardly have achieved such results. Not because its combat effectiveness is low, but because support was provided by high-tech weapons, without which it would simply not be possible to achieve a result on the battlefield. And this support was provided precisely by the Russian military. Then the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Sergey Shoigu asked especially to thank the airborne forces who performed tasks to support the ground operation in the most difficult weather conditions. They took Raqqa, twice released Palmyra. The success was obvious. But it did not become final. On the territory of Syria there were “hot spots” where the influence of ISIS fighters remained.
- Where did Russia get “Syrian sadness” and why was it decided to send troops, albeit at the request of the legitimate government, to this country? – argues military observer Vladislav Shurygin.
- Russia not only defended Syria from the aggression of another state using the armed opposition and provided military assistance to it at the request of the legitimate government, but provided its own security on long lines. It seems that Damascus is far from Moscow, but if you look at the political map of the world, the paths through the Caucasus and Central Asia lead directly to our borders. ISIS, which was clearly cramped within Iraq and Syria, would sooner or later seep into Russia. The jihadists are trying to introduce their ideology everywhere, including in Russia. And they even created “cells” in separate Russian regions, which, however, successfully uncover and liquidate the domestic special services. The likelihood that several tens of thousands of ISIS members, fanatical and well trained militarily, could be in our country was extremely high. In such a situation, special operations could not be limited – one would have to use the army. And this is a full-scale hostilities.
That is, the main task of the grouping of the Russian air forces in Syria (and this is not only helicopters and aircraft, but also special forces and marines) was to counter terrorists outside of Russia. They coped with the main task, but there remained a “center of resistance” in Idlib, where the Syrian government army cannot achieve any serious successes. Including due to the fact that this province borders on Turkey, which openly restrains the fighting spirit of Syria for fear of getting a stream of refugees into its territory.
It can be assumed that Putin’s current “silence” regarding Turkish aggression in Syrian Kurdistan is connected with certain agreements with Erdogan. Such a peculiar change – exchange. Russia is “merging” the Kurds, with whom there had previously been some agreements and cooperation, and in return it has the opportunity to support the attack on Idlib, which is a strategic point for Damascus.
There is such a nuance that the Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria forces the United States to retreat in this region, which actively financed and armed Kurdish groups, which Ankara considers to be terrorists. Detachments of Ishilovites also appeared on this territory. In this context, Moscow wins twice – reduces American influence in Syria and crowds out jihadists with Ankara’s hands. And if Turkey “surrenders” Idlib, then this may turn out to be a profitable exchange for Russia. It turns out that both Russia and the United States betrayed the Kurds, and Turkey took advantage of this situation and is trying to solve a long-standing territorial problem.
It was the Kurds who became extreme in this situation. Recently, the emissary of the Syrian Kurds in Russia Javal Muhammad confirmed that in Syrian Kurdistan they are ready for negotiations with Moscow and Damascus if the Americans leave the region. The emissary believes that the army of the Syrian government (which is supported by the Russian air forces) should join the Kurds ’struggle“ against Turkish aggression ”. Muhammad spoke about the hope of supporting Russia. At the same time, the Kurds over the past few years have cooperated with the United States and received military support from them. In Moscow, the Kurds did not hear the call for friendship, they only officially declared that this conflict should be resolved exclusively by peaceful means.
The self-proclaimed Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFSS), also known as Northern Kurdistan, has been de facto operating in northeast Syria since 2016. This territory is controlled by various formations, among which the most numerous are SDS units supported by Americans, which number about 25 thousand Kurdish and 5 thousand Arab militias. Here, until recently, there was a contingent of US troops.
Russia now preferred not to interfere in the “Kurdish issue,” given the current relationship with Ankara. The Kurds were given only the right to negotiate independently with Damascus, without explaining how to ensure the security of the Kurdish areas from the Turkish invasion.