The involvement of Russia in the war in Syria has helped the forces of the Islamic State, even though Russia claims that it is fighting against the terrorist organization.
Militants from ISIS recently reached the city of Aleppo in Syria yesterday, while the United States warned Russia that its efforts against the Muslim extremist group were not working.
ISIS launched a surprise attack against non-ISIS rebel groups north of Aleppo on Thursday night. In the process, they seized at least three villages, as well as a former army base which rebels had previously captured from Syrian troops still loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The surprise attack happened ten days after Russia initiated airstrikes on targets across northern and western Syria. Russia has claimed to be fighting ISIS, but they instead appear to be targeting rebel groups that present danger to the regime of President Assad.
The attack is widely considered to be the largest advance by ISIS forces in months. It raises fears that Russia’s series of attacks against rebel groups inadvertently strengthens ISIS forces by giving them fewer enemies to deal with.
Some military experts believe that this plan is deliberate, so that Russia will give Western forces such as the United States an ultimatum of either supporting the Syrian regime or ISIS.
Defense secretary Ashton Carter said, “By taking the side of Assad they inflame the civil war, and therefore extremism, and prolong the suffering of the Syrian people,” Carter said in London. “They are going to have the effect also of turning everyone against Russia itself. This will boomerang in a very direct way on Russia.”
Videos that were recently posted on the internet show rebel forces destroying Syrian tanks using missiles. The missiles were largely made in America and delivered by Saudi Arabia. The rebel forces are expecting to receive more missiles from Saudi Arabia in response to Russia’s involvement in the war.
Meanwhile the military of the United States is temporarily stopping its program of training rebel fighters to fight against ISIS. The focus will shift to equipping and providing air support for approved combat groups.