Russia to respond after massive drone attack hits Syrian base
Irrespective of any possible US role, the attack further confirms that the Syrian war is not over and that the Russians still have a fight on their hands
9 January, 2017
At the time of Russian President Putin’s December announcement of the partial withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria, I wrote an article for The Duran saying that the war in Syria was far from over and that the announcement should not be treated as an indication that it is over or even close to being over:
The war in Syria is not over and it is not won. Though ISIS’s back has been broken, it is still a force under arms in rural Deir Ezzor where it has recently taken the offensive against the US’s Kurdish allies.
In addition hundreds of ISIS fighters are still roaming free in the desert regions of central Syria even if they no longer control any important towns there. These bands of fighters still pose a significant security threat, and will continue to do so for some time.
Further west Syria’s Idlib province remains under Jihadi control.
Worse still, there is now growing evidence that ISIS is trying to redeploy as many of its fighters as it can from central and eastern Syria to Idlib province.
With the Syrian military as always heavily over-stretched and still not in full control of much of the countryside it seems that this apparently planned redeployment of ISIS fighters from central and eastern Syria to Idlib province is not only taking place, but that it is actually meeting with some success.
Recently there have been reports of bitter fighting in Idlib province between Al-Qaeda – previously in undisputed control of the province – and the ISIS fighters who are being redeployed there from central and eastern Syria. Moreover it seems that with Al-Qaeda severely weakened because of the massive losses it suffered last year in the Great Battle of Aleppo, it is ISIS which is gaining the upper hand in this fighting.
Whilst it is probably still alarmist to say that ISIS’s caliphate which has been driven out of Raqqa, central Syria and Deir Ezzor is now in the process of reconstituting itself in Idlib, the possibility that something like that might happen is certainly there, and the Russians cannot be unaware of it.
Elsewhere there are still significant pockets of Jihadi resistance in south western Syria, especially in the Golan Heights and near Damascus, whilst the Syrian government still faces a serious problem with the US-backed Kurds who currently control around a fifth of Syria’s territory in the north.
Last but not least there are still thousands of US troops in Syria, uninvited and potentially dangerous, with no one outside the Pentagon and CENTCOM knowing exactly how many of them there are.
The remaining contingent and military infrastructure at Hmeymim and Tartus have the necessary capabilities to counter sporadic terrorist hit-and-run raids, which will regrettably continue. This merely emphasizes the need for stepping up political settlement efforts.
[In making the decision to pull out its military personnel from Syria] Russia proceeded from the assumption there are no grounds for conducting major offensive operations.
Everybody, including the president, were aware that terrorists’ attacks would not come to an end overnight, but will continue.