A resident of Jerusalem wrote on social media today that if Israel had Vladimir Putin as president, the Arabs would quickly be defeated by the IDF.
She referred to what is happening in Syria, where Russia Wednesday evening introduced cruise missiles in what is said to have been a massive attack on ISIS targets.
Russian warships in the Caspian Sea – some 1,000 miles away from Syria – launched 26 cruise missiles on 11 targets in ISIS-held territory in Syria, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told reporters.
The Russian Defense Ministry later released a video that showed the launch of the cruise missiles.
You can watch that here:
“The missiles were fired by the small-sized ships Dagestan, Grad Sviyazhsk, Uglich and Veliky Ustyug, targeting infrastructural facilities in the country. The ships used the Kalibr NK missile system; whichRussian officials say was able to engage all targets successfully. The system is capable of engaging targets within a 3-meter margin of error,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a press release.
The news about the cruise missile attacks was followed by reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army and its allies have launched a large-scale ground operation against Islamic State in Syria.
State-controlled media and Iranian news agencies reported that the head of the Syrian General Staff, General Ali Abdullah Ayyoub, had announced the large-scale offensive against Islamic State.
“The Syrian army this Thursday launched a massive offensive against the Islamic State group in the province of Hama aimed at recovering all cities, towns and regions besieged by those the government calls terrorists,” Ayyoub reportedly said.
VOX News, however, has evidence that the Russian airstrikes are not directed at Islamic State but rebel groups in Western Syria. VOX published a map by the so-called Levantine group, an organization that collects intelligence on security-related issues and which delivered the evidence that Russia is lying about its campaign in Syria.
Michael Horowitz, a Syria analyst at the Levantine group, told VOX that “the Russian air campaign is not geared toward the so-called Islamic State. Russian airstrikes are focusing on opposition groups controlling northwestern Syria, including the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, other Islamist groups such Ahrar al-Sham, and ‘moderate’ groups including the Free Syrian Army (FSA).”
“The map also shows that the first week of airstrikes was meant to ‘soften’ opposition targets along the coast as well as inside the rebel-held enclave between Homs and Hama. Russia is laying the groundwork for a ground offensive in these areas, likely involving Iranian and/or Hezbollah forces, given the depleted state of Assad’s troop reserves,” Horowitz added.
The Levantine group’s assessment of the Russian activities in Syria matches the conclusions of the State Department. Spokesman John Kirby said during a press conference on Wednesday that 90% of the Russian airstrikes have not hit ISIS targets.
“They’ve been largely against opposition groups that want a better future for Syria and don’t want to see the (Bashar) Assad regime stay in power.
“I wouldn’t call what they’re doing a strategy. It’s a failing tactic to take because keeping him in power, even if it’s because you want to get to mutual consent, propping him up only prolongs the conflict,” Kirby said.
It remains unclear what exactly Kirby meant by “opposition groups that want a better future for Syria.”
Almost all those opposition groups are Islamists like Jabhat al-Nusra, the Al-Qaeda branch in Syria. The Russian actions in Syria are mainly directed against the so-called “Army of Conquest,” an Islamist coalition led by Jabhat al-Nusra. All those groups want to turn what is left of Syria into an Islamist theocracy where democracy will have no place.
It is also clear that the ground offensive that was announced today will not be directed at Islamic State, but the Army of Conquest.
Several reports that have been published over the past few days show that this is indeed the case.
The ground offensive is taking place in the Idlib Province and in Hama, where Islamic State has no presence.
The news site NOW Lebanon reported today that rebels had caused a ‘tank massacre” in northern Hama. Many tanks of regime forces were destroyed by US-made TOW missiles, and the offensive has suffered a significant setback, NOW reported.
Regime forces and Hezbollah are also preparing for a major offensive in the northern Kuneitra Province, where Jabhat al-Nusra has set up camp along the border with Israel. More than 40 Hezbollah vehicles have arrived at the 90th Brigade Base of the Syrian army, and the offensive is expected to begin on Friday.
As for the sensational reports about the Russian cruise missiles hitting Islamic State targets, this seems to be a lie too. It just doesn’t make sense to attack Islamic State with cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea.
“There are very few Daesh targets for which the long-range cruise missiles would be suitable. For airborne targeting, Daesh is almost entirely a “TACAIR” target set – best attacked using tactical air assets (strike-fighters, tactical bombers, armed drones, and helicopters),” naval intelligence and weapons expert Jennifer Dyer wrote to Western Journalism in an e-mail interview.
So Putin hasn’t changed his strategy, nor his plan for Syria. As Western Journalism reported at the end of September, “the Russian actions are consistent with the overall strategy by the Iranian-Russian dominated P4+1 coalition that aims to drive opposition groups out of the border area with Lebanon, western Homs Province and the coastal plain where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite home base and Syria’s only ports are located. The newly-formed coalition wants to secure Assad’s rule over the Damascus area and the above-mentioned territories, plus the Kuneitra Province, which is bordering Israel on the Golan Heights.”