Russia in Syria: What damage will it do?

Julian Borger writes: Sending troops and military hardware into the middle of another country’s civil war to prop up a ruthless and despised dictator rarely turns out well for anyone, and all the signs suggest that Vladimir Putin’s adventure in Syria will be no exception.

Not all the damage Russia wreaks will be self-inflicted. There are likely be plenty of other losers. Most analysts agree that in the absence of a very quick pivot to diplomacy leading to a real political transition in Damascus, the intervention is likely to prolong the conflict and escalate it, drawing other regional powers in more deeply.

The only beneficiaries may be Islamic State (Isis) recruiters, who can only be grateful for the Russian orthodox church’s designation of Putin’s expeditionary campaign as a “holy war”. [Continue reading…]

Reuters reports: Russia estimates its air strike campaign in Syria could last three to four months, the head of the lower house of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee said on Friday.

“There is always a risk of being bogged down but in Moscow, we are talking about an operation of three to four months,” Alexei Pushkov, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, told French radio station Europe 1. He added that the strikes were going to intensify. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports: Russian warplanes have struck targets deep inside the Islamic State’s heartland province of Raqqa for the first time, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Friday.

The strikes were carried out against an Islamic State training camp and a command post near the city of Raqqa, expanding the scope of a three-day old air campaign that had previously focused on attacking rebel groups opposed to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

Those attacks continued Friday, with one U.S.-backed rebel group in the northwestern province of Hama saying its bases had been hit for the sixth time in three days by Russian jets.

Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for Russia’s Defense Ministry, said the Raqqa strikes took place overnight Thursday and were among 18 sorties conducted over the previous 24 hours, bringing to 30 the total number of raids since Moscow launched its air campaign in Syria on Wednesday. [Continue reading…]

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