Who Just Showed Up In Syria To Help Russia Makes Things Even More Perilous For USA

Russia appears to have a partner in its mission in Syria to prop up the Assad regime.

Fox News is reporting that Iran has deployed troops to the region to conduct ground operations in coordination with Russian airstrikes.

“It has always been understood in this building that the Russians would provide the air force, and the Iranians would provide the ground force in Syria,” one official said.

Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters: “We know the Iranians are a part of this. We’ve known that since day one.” Officials could not disclose the size of the Iranian force, due to the sensitive nature of the information. 

Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the Quds Force commander, is overseeing the operation in Syria. The general traveled to Moscow in August, which is when the deal was likely struck. 

Former Deputy Asst. Sec. of Defense K.T. McFarland told Fox News: “So we now have a new alliance in the Middle East: Russian, Iran, Iraq, [Syria’s Assad regime]…a Shiite crescent throughout the region.” She added: “The problem is, we’re not sure where it is going, and we are not sure who they are targeting.”

Syria Map

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Russia airstrikes are not being directed primarily against ISIS, but rebel forces fighting the Assad regime, who are backed by the United States.

One of [Wednesday’s] airstrikes hit an area primarily held by rebels backed by the Central Intelligence Agency and allied spy services, U.S. officials said, catapulting the Syrian crisis to a new level of danger and uncertainty. Moscow’s entry means the world’s most powerful militaries—including the U.S., Britain and France—now are flying uncoordinated combat missions, heightening the risk of conflict in the skies over Syria…

Russia has built up its military presence in Syria in recent weeks to support Mr. Assad after he suffered a series of battlefield setbacks and acknowledged publicly that he could no longer hold on to all of the country after more than four years of war. During the buildup, Moscow said its intent was to fight Islamic State and conflated opponents of the regime with terrorists.

US - Russia - Iran Competing Goals

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Moscow last week to coordinate with the Russians in the hopes of avoiding any unintended confrontations between their two nations’ military forces. President Vladimir Putin assured Netanyahu his country’s actions in the region would be “responsible.”

Reuters reports that the prime minister is worried that top-of-the-line Russian military equipment could end up in the hands of Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters, who are also on the ground supporting the Assad regime.

Analysis: What’s Really Behind Putin’s Behavior In Syria?

The Syrian war entered a new phase on Wednesday when Russian airplanes bombed several targets in the Homs Province in northwest Syria.

General Igor Kanashenkov explained on Russian television that 20 Russian fighter jets had bombed at least six targets that were selected in coordination with the Syrian army. The attack was directed at weapon depots belonging to unspecified Islamist rebel groups, the general said.

You can watch Kanashenkov and images of the air strike in the Russian TV report here:

Western governments, including the United States, were quick to condemn the Russians for not attacking Islamic State. According to some media reports, the first series of strikes targeted the Free Syrian Army, the Western-backed pro-democratic rebel group that would dominate this area. But the area is known to be a longtime hotbed of Sunni Islamists.

Today, Russian warplanes again attacked rebel positions in the same area.

Lebanese media reported on 30 strikes that targeted the Jaish al-Fatah coalition (Army of Conquest) in rural areas near the northwestern town of Jish al-Shughour.

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.

This is the main reason Putin yesterday ordered a Russian three-star general to tell the U.S. Embassy in Bagdad that the U.S-led coalition air force should clear the air space in Syria where Russia intended to strike.

The Russian request caught the U.S. central command off guard again. Centcom had a similar experience afterTurkey joined the battle against Islamic State. At the time, a high-ranking Turkish officer entered the operations room of Centcom in Iraq and told commanders that coalition airplanes should clear the skies above the Kurdish autonomous area in Iraq so that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s air force could bomb PKK positions.

Obama officials made clear that the Russian action, in fact, contradicted the understandings reached during the frosty meeting between Putin and Obama at the General Assembly of the United Nations. These understandings aimed to “de-conflict” military operations in Syria, the officials noted, while adding that this is not the way “responsible nations do business.”

From Putin’s point of view, the request was quite logical. His prime interest is not to join the battle against Islamic State, but to help consolidate the rule of his ally Assad in Syria and to put Russia firmly on the future map of the Middle East. By demanding that the U.S.-led coalition leave the skies in Western Syria, he made clear that from now on, the rules of the game have changed.

Russia will do whatever it takes to safeguard its interests in the region, even if it means upsetting the U.S. administration.

Putin learned from Obama’s handling of the chemical weapons crisis in Syria and his approach to the Crimea crisis that he can act as the neighborhood bully without any serious consequences.

We can therefore assume that the ‘crisis‘ that erupted between the U.S. and Russia yesterday will result in the first no-fly zone during the four-year long Syrian war: one that will be off-limits for the U.S-led coalition.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin Has Secret Intentions For Bombing ISIS

Video Transcript: 

On Wednesday, the Russian parliament authorized President Vladimir Putin to engage in airstrikes against ISIS in Syria.

Just one problem, it appears they aren’t targeting ISIS.

These strikes, near the city of Homs, is not under control of ISIS, of the Islamic State. So already we are seeing the true intentions of Vladimir Putin.

Fox News’ strategic analyst, former Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, outlined Putin’s intentions of building a Middle Eastern alliance.

What Putin is doing, his goals are absolutely transparent. First: He wants to support Assad. That’s the tactical goal. Second: He intends to do as much mischief as possible while Obama is still in office and, and, and unable to act or unwilling to act. And Third and longterm: He is building an alliance in the Middle East with Iran, Iraq, Iraq and Syria to keep us out.

On Monday, Putin assured the UN that his troops would only target ISIS. The attacks, however, allegedly hit areas held by groups opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Putin is a master of propaganda. He’s brilliant at turning a situation on its head. In where, you know, he’s going into Syria to rescue the world, save the world from ISIS. He wants to wipe out all of the opposition to Assad except Islamic State leaving us with a stark choice – leaving the world with a stark choice – support Assad or support Islamic State. This guy is good and we’ve got a pixie dust president who still thinks he can say something three times and make it come true.

BREAKING: Russia Makes Massive Military Move, Makes Stunning Demand To America

On Wednesday, Russia launched its first air strike in Syria and has told the United States to get out of its way, according to a U.S. official.

Russian bombers attacked targets in Homs. It was unclear which of the rebel groups fighting Syria’s government was the target.

As the strikes were taking place, Russia’s government formally approved a request from President Vladimir Putin to authorize the use of Russian troops in Syria.

“Russia will factually be the only country to carry out this operation on the legitimate basis of the request of the legitimate government of Syria,” said Dmitri S. Peskov, Putin’s spokesman.

Russia also wanted the U.S. to stand down in northern Syria so that Russia can attack ISIS targets, according to sources who spoke to Fox News.

“If you have forces in the area we request they leave,” a Russian general told his American counterparts, according to Fox.

U.S. forces did not honor the request. A U.S. led coalition has launched thousands of airstrikes in Syria in the past year, and the United States has armed and trained some of the anti-Assad rebels.

“We still conducted our normal strike operations in Syria today,” a senior Pentagon official told Fox News. “We did not and have not changed our operations.”

However, on Tuesday, Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook said that U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has directed that the U.S. air effort not conflict with the Russian military.

Russia recently established a base of operations in Syria in an effort to prop up the government of dictator Bashar al Assad.

“The Russians are no longer advising, but co-leading the war in Syria,” one intelligence official told Fox News.

h/t: Fox News

What Happened Right After Obama Met With Putin Is Not A Good Sign For The U.S.

Following a meeting Monday between Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a key U.S. official announced her resignation. Reports indicate that Evelyn Farkas has been employed by the U.S. Department of Defense for five years and has served most recently as deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.

One source cited by Politico explained that Farkas “has advised three secretaries of defense on Russia policy, providing steady counsel on how the U.S. should respond to Russia’s aggressive actions and has been deeply involved in securing $244 million in support for Ukraine.”

While the Obama administration has been criticized – even by some former insiders – for its perceived permissiveness regarding Russia’s aggressive military action, Farkas has maintained the Defense Department’s more aggressive stance. During a 2014 Senate testimony, she described Russia’s occupying forces as “an affront to the international order that we and our allies have worked to build since the end of the Cold War.”

Though early reports do not offer any official reason for her departure, there has been speculation that her motivation lies in a disagreement with the administration’s foreign policy positions.

Regardless of her reasoning, experts believe finding an appropriate replacement will be a tall order for the Pentagon.

“There are not a lot of Europe experts in this administration who have a long record of accomplishment,” one defense official said. “There’s no doubt this leaves the Pentagon weaker in terms of its policy-making on European issues.”