Hundreds of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria in the last 10 days and will soon join government forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies in a major ground offensive backed by Russian air strikes, two Lebanese sources told Reuters.
“The (Russian) air strikes will in the near future be accompanied by ground advances by the Syrian army and its allies,” said one of the sources familiar with political and military developments in the conflict.
“It is possible that the coming land operations will be focused in the Idlib and Hama countryside,” the source added.
The two sources said the operation would be aimed at recapturing territory lost by President Bashar al-Assad’s government to rebels. [Emphasis added]
Please pay particular attention to that last line as we venture back to the UN so that we might see the Obama administration’s reaction:
[Secretary of State John] Kerry told the United Nations Security Council that the U.S. would not object to Russians hitting Islamic State or al-Qaida targets, but airstrikes just to strengthen the hand of Syrian President Bashar Assad would be worrisome. Later, after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, Kerry said he had spoken about U.S. “concerns about the nature of the targets, the type of targets and the need for clarity with respect for them.
“It is one thing obviously to be targeting ISIL. We are concerned obviously if that is not what is happening,” Kerry said.
Anyone who can read a map — this definition would seem to exclude most senior members of Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom’s administration — isn’t at all surprised by Russia’s airstrikes. Senator John McCain “said he could ‘absolutely confirm’ that members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), who had been funded and trained by the CIA, were among those targeted.” The Syrian rebels, our supposed allies, hold the areas closest to Damascus and the coastal regions still held by forces loyal to Assad. The ISIS-held areas mostly lie far to the east, closer to Iraq.
So of course Russo-Iranian forces are concentrating on defeating the rebels, who pose the most immediate threat to Assad. And yet Obama negotiated in good faith with Putin on Monday, with some sort of expectation that Putin would attack our enemies rather than his own.
Naiveté. Idiocy. Madness. As though anybody in the Middle East cares about Kerry’s “concerns” while Moscow and Tehran are actually taking strong action.
Our former friends in Iraq are adjusting their planning accordingly, as Lebanon’s Daily Star reports:
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Thursday he would welcome Russian airstrikes against ISIS in his country and had been receiving information from both Syria and Russia on the militant group.
“Not yet,” Abadai told France 24 television when asked if he had discussed with Russia airstrikes in his country. “It is a possibility. If we get the offer we will consider it and I would welcome it.”
He said Baghdad had also been receiving “massive information” from Syria on ISIS and also from Russia.
Obama has spent two years dicking around with the so-called “jayvee” in eastern Syria and western Iraq, wasting everybody’s time with ineffectual pinprick attacks. He spent half a billion dollars over the course of months to train five ostensibly pro-American rebels, while the Russians and Iranians have deployed hundreds of their own troops to Syria in just the last couple of weeks. Is it any wonder that Iraq, which Obama abandoned in 2011, is turning its lonely eyes to Moscow?
Meanwhile the Russians are ruthlessly going about the business of protecting their friends and blowing up their enemies — the perceived value of which even our own secretary of Defense doesn’t understand:
“It does appear they were in in areas where there probably were not ISIL forces,” [Defense Secretary Ash] Carter said of the Russian airstrikes, using an alternative acronym for Islamic State. “The result of this kind of action will inevitably simply be to inflame the civil war in Syria.”
Carter said he couldn’t confirm reports that the Russian strikes may have hit civilians, but said, “if it occurred, it’s yet another reason why this kind of Russian action can and will backfire very badly on Russia.”
Backfire with whom? The Assad regime has never cared about civilian casualties, Baghdad can’t afford to care about civilian casualties, and Russia and Iran care only about establishing their new hegemony over the old Fertile Crescent.
Obama and Kerry and Carter can cluck at Russia all they want, but its their chickens which have come to roost in what is fast becoming Putin’s Middle East.