Daily Management Review

Russia Expands Role in Syria in Efforts to Combat ISIS


Russia seems to have increased its influence in Syria in the ongoing global efforts to bring an end to the Crisis.

The Russian initiative became evident after it was announced in Baghdad that military officials from Russia, Iran Syria and Iraq were working together to on intelligence and security cooperation to form a strategy to counter the Islamic State that has already taken over large areas in both Syria and Iraq.

This announcement was seen as an indicator of Russia getting more sway in the Middle East.
U.S. efforts to end the Syria war were derided by Russian President Vladimir Putin claiming that the efforts had created a tide of refugees into neighbouring states and Europe.

Putin said that Russia was itself trying to create a "coordinated framework" to resolve the conflict even as Moscow sent tanks and war planes to a Russian military base in Syria earlier this month.

"We would welcome a common platform for collective action against the terrorists," Putin said in an interview on Sunday on CBS's "60 Minutes."

The Russian initiative seems to have caught off guard countries like the US and France which are active in the region to end the conflict. While Washington scrambled to devise a new strategy for the war-ravaged country, France sent war planes to bomb Islamic State targets but without much of positive outcome.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Syria with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the United Nations General Assembly this week in New York.

Kerry told reporters in New York that even as vital efforts were being made to coordinate action against Islamic State militants it was not yet happening.

"I think we have concerns about how we are going to go forward," Kerry told reporters.
The US was trying to formulate a new strategy for the Middle East which would include Russia, officials sources were quoted saying by the media.

"It was a very thorough exchange of views on both the military and the political implications of Russia’s increased engagement in Syria," a senior State Department official told reporters.

While claiming that Damascus should be included in international efforts to fight Islamic State, Putin, who is slated to meet the U.S. President Barack Obama in New York on Monday, had branded the U.S. support for rebel forces in Syria as being illegal and ineffective.

Mocking the US efforts to train up to 5,400 Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic radicals of ISIS, Putin had said: "It turns out that only 60 of these fighters have been properly trained, and as few as four or five people actually carry weapons."

"Russia will not take part in any field operations on the territory of Syria or in other states; at least, we do not plan it for now," Putin said stressing that Moscow had no plans now to deploy combat troops on the ground in Syria.
"There are more than 2,000 militants in Syria from the former Soviet Union. Instead of waiting for them to return back home we should help President al-Assad fight them there, in Syria," Putin said while refereeing to the risk of radicalized fighters returning home after fighting with Islamic State.

While the US and some European nations are against President Assad continuing in power in Syria,

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, a big military supporter of Assad, told reporters any discussion of political reform in Syria should come only after the threat of "terrorism" had been removed.

In recent months however the United States, Britain and some other allies have toned down their demand for Assad immediately leaving power in Syria.