Russia has made its first attack in Syria, and its target was reportedly an ally of the United States fighting against the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Russia has claimed the strikes were aimed at ISIS, yet the location and suspected targets appear to refute this assertion.
The eastern European country is believed to be working with Syrian forces in order to keep Assad in power. If this is true, then having Russia on their side will certainly strengthen Assad’s forces. It is also likely to weaken ISIS forces, that is, if Russia is indeed fighting against them as well. Russia has stated that their intended target is ISIS, but this initial attack is leading officials to believe otherwise.
According to Jamil al-Saleh, who is the leader of the Syrian rebel group Tajammu al-Aaza, Russia conducted an airstrike against his group’s base in al-Lataminah, which is located in western Syria in the region of Hama. This area is one of the deepest southern points of rebel advances coming from the north, and it is a crucial front line at this point in the conflict.
Meanwhile, an alliance of certain Syrian rebel forces has successfully driven Assad’s army out of the northern region of Idlib, and they are now advancing south into Hama.
As for the airstrike against Tajammu al-Aaza, a video was recently released of the attack. Security forces of the Syrian government have also confirmed that the attack took place.
Officials from the United States quickly took notice of the airstrike. Speaking on condition of anonymity they said the targets were not linked to ISIS. However White House spokesperson Josh Earnest stated that it is too early to say who the specific target of Russia actually is.
The attack comes during a time of much activity at the United Nations. The United States and Russia have had a heated debate over who is responsible for the rise of ISIS and who should take responsibility in fighting the terrorist organization.
Russian officials have pointed out the fact that the campaign of the United States against ISIS is failing. They believe that the United States should have worked in cooperation with Syria and Iran to fight against the organization.
However, rather than putting aside differences and cooperating with the United States to stop the threat of ISIS, Russia’s most recent action may encourage more violence, while also boosting Iran’s influence in the region, all while helping Assad stay in power.