Putin Escalates Real War on ISIS
by Stephen Lendman
Obama’s so-called war on ISIS is phony. US operations support its proxy foot soldiers, waging war on Syria to oust Assad, wanting his government replaced with a Western-controlled puppet regime.
Putin’s combat mission is the real thing, making a significant difference on the ground. A previous article explained Syrian forces liberated Kuweyres air base in the country’s north. The reliable Saker called it “a huge victory” after ISIS elements held it for two-and-a-half years.
Their “best fighters” were deployed to maintain control, “resist(ing) with everything they had up to the last moment” before liberation. Earlier Syrian army successes “were limited in importance” compared to this victory – both “moral” and strategic, “chang(ing) the shape and dynamic of the front.”
Syrian forces effectively “seized the initiative from Daesh and they are now on the offensive…This is very, very good news,” The Saker stressed.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was “right,” calling the base’s liberation “resilience, strength, determination, and vigor of the soldiers and officers of the Syrian Arab Army.”
The struggle to neutralize and defeat ISIS achieved a major boost. The Saker said “(t)here is no overstating the heroism of the Syrians who fought and refused to surrender even though they had no meds and minimum food and supplies.”
At the same time, it’s way too early to declare victory. Combat continues. Putin declared he’s in it longterm, not for a few months as initially explained, saying: “The duration of stay of our military will be determined solely depending on the time (needed to achieve our) objective.”
He upped the ante, dramatically increasing military operations. For the first time, 25 long-range strategic bombers are involved, deployed from southern Russia to attack ISIS targets in Syria, according to Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.
“We are conducting a mass airstrike campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria,” he said during a Security Council meeting chaired by Putin in Moscow.
“We have now doubled the number of sorties, which is allowing us to conduct operations throughout the length and breadth of the country.”
Tu-95, Tu-22 and Tu-160 long-range strategic bombers are being used. Russia’s Air Force command added 37 new planes, including Su-34 bombers and Su-27 fighter jets.
Aerial operations are now doubled. Putin ordered a Latakia-based cruiser to coordinate military operations with Mediterranean-based French naval forces. On Thursday, the aircraft carrier Charles de Daulle departs for the eastern Mediterranean.
The US Navy Times reported the Harry S. Truman Strike Group departed from Norfolk, VA on Monday, heading to link up with French naval forces off Syria’s coast. How this complicates Russian operations and coordination with France remains to be seen. More on this below.
Putin said military operations in Syria protect Russia’s territory and citizens. “Our air campaign in Syria must not only be continued. It must be boosted in such a way that the criminals are made aware that retribution is inevitable,” he stressed.
Joint mission operational strategy in combating terrorism was arranged with France, he explained, following a phone call between both leaders. Hollande will meet with Putin in Moscow next week.
So far, he’s shown no inclination to combat ISIS in Syria, focusing entirely on working with Washington in attacking infrastructure and government targets.
It remains to be seen what he has in mind now. He and Putin sharply disagree about Assad’s fate. France allying with Russia against ISIS would compromise its relationship with America, attacking its foot soldiers, an unlikely prospect unless proved otherwise.
In nearly seven week of Russian aerial operations, chief of Russia’s General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, reported 2,300 sorties flown as well as Caspian Sea-based cruise missile attacks.
Ten satellites are involved in choosing targets. “The work of Russia’s air force has enabled Syrian government forces to go on the offensive along the entire front in the regions of Aleppo, Latakia, Idlib, Homs and Damascus, freeing significant territories from terrorist control,” Gerasimov explained.
Russia’s involvement changed the dynamic significantly on the ground in a short time. With Putin committed to unlimited combat against ISIS, reinvigorated Syrian ground forces will likely continue making gains, having seized the offensive, determined to hold it.
At the same time, US support enabled ISIS successes up to now. As long as it continues, fighting could continue for years – new fighters replacing killed and wounded ones, new weapons supplies replenishing what Russian air attacks and Syria’s army destroy.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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