Experts: Russians returning to Syria?

By F. Michael Maloof


WASHINGTON – Russia soon could return some 3,000 troops to Syria, Middle East experts tell Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, suggesting the compromise cease-fire between Moscow and Washington has failed along with the Geneva talks.

The negotiations in Geneva currently are suspended as a result of renewed fighting by jihadi groups outside Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.

Moscow had intervened militarily in the civil war in September 2015 following a request from the Syrian government. But on March 14, 2016, Russia ordered the withdrawal of most of its forces there.

Moscow’s apparent decision comes after the United States asked Russia not to bomb the Jabhat al-Nusra group, which is al-Qaida in Syria, insisting there are elements of “moderate” jihadist groups located where al-Nusra is operating.

Now Moscow apparently has rejected Washington’s appeal, suggesting any coordination between the two nations on fighting ISIS won’t be forthcoming.

Moscow regards the groups as Salafists and makes no distinction between them and Nusra or ISIS, since many of the fighters are interchangeable with the various groups.

The jihadi Salafist groups that have formed the opposition in the Geneva talks include Jaysh al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham, Ansar al-Sunna, Jaish al-Fateh and Jaysh al-Sunna.

Get the rest of this report, and others, at Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

According to Mideast sources, a number of the groups are coordinating attacks with Nusra and continue to receive financing and logistical support from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

In addition, a Russian official has told G2 Bulletin that Washington considers Nusra as more “moderate” than ISIS and sees Nusra and the other jihadi groups as helping to form a new Sunni-dominated Syrian government.

The jihadi groups the U.S. wants protected from further Russian bombing, however, are not fighting to defeat ISIS but to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Moscow is protecting.

Backed by Russia and Iran, Assad insists on remaining president, although the U.S. has sought his removal before any peace talks take place. The U.S. stance is supported by the jihadi opposition groups who also had attended the Geneva conferences before walking out two weeks ago.

Assad insists on remaining in office and has told the Syrian parliament he will “liberate” every inch of Syria. Like the U.S., however, the various jihadi groups insist he be removed before the resumption of peace talks.

“The way we liberated Palmyra, and before that many areas, we will liberate every last bit of Syria from their hands,” Assad said. “We have no choice but to be victorious.”

With Moscow reportedly dispatching an additional 3,000 troops to Syria, the Middle East source, who requested anonymity for security reasons, said that Russian ships are passing through the Bosporus channel “regularly.”

Get the rest of this report, and others, at Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.


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