The Daily Beast reports: Russia has expanded its role in the Syria conflict and is now by far the dominant power in the air war, according to rebel military commanders and a leading Syrian human rights monitor. Commanders say that as a result even if the U.S. were to knock out the entire Syrian Air Force, that wouldn’t turn the tide of the war.
President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military intervention in September 2015 when the Assad regime was said to be on the brink of collapse after rebels captured Idlib province in northern Syria, and since then dependence on Moscow has grown steadily.
Russia’s lead role in the air war is evidenced by the airstrikes against Syrian civilian targets since last Friday, when the U.S. fired 59 cruise missiles at Shayrat, a Syrian airbase in central Homs province. The U.S. government said Shayrat was the launch point for a chemical weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib province, in which more than 100 people died, according to local officials.
Over the five days between Friday and Tuesday evening, Russian airstrikes caused the deaths of 56 civilians, including 10 children and eight women, the Syrian Network for Human Rights reported Thursday. Syrian government forces, including foreign militias, killed 42, SNHR said. [Continue reading…]