One might get the impression that Putin spun world opinion with anti-IS rhetoric in order to prop up a brutal Syrian tyrant.
Beirut (AFP) – Syrian rebels who oppose both the regime and the Islamic State group have been hit hardest by Russian air strikes, showing Moscow’s determination to defend President Bashar al-Assad against all enemies, analysts say.
More than four years into Syria’s devastating war, Russian warplanes began air strikes there on Wednesday, saying they were targeting IS jihadists and “other terrorist groups”.
But Western officials said they had indications the Kremlin was concentrating its attacks on anti-Assad factions instead of jihadists.
Experts and a key monitoring group say that Moscow’s targets show it intends to strike all opposition groups opposed to Damascus — jihadist or otherwise — in an effort to save Assad.
“Moscow has entered Syria to hit not just Daesh, but all groups it regards as terrorists, including those supported by the Gulf monarchies and Turkey,” said Syria specialist Fabrice Balanche, using the Arabic acronym for the group.
So Russia is propping up Assad in Syria while selling billions of dollars of technology to Iran, Assad’s ally. Nice gig if you can get it.