Russia has begun bombing Syria, claiming they are targeting Daesh (IS). But the airstrikes are, in effect, a defence of the Assad government, which Russia maintains is the legitimate government of the Syrian people.
The Guardian reported that a rebel group trained by the CIA, Liwa Suqour al-Jabal, had its training camp in Idlib struck repeatedly in two separate bombings.
Russia has hit a range of targets in both northern and central Syria, affecting the increasingly fragmented rebel groups, including members of the Islamic Front and the Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.
One of Russia’s most targeted areas is in the northwest of Syria, where a larger number of Chechen fighters are found. They were responsible for the destruction of an Assad military installation in the area.
A Russian spokesman quoted by the Guardian admitted, “These organisations are well known and the targets are chosen in coordination with the armed forces of Syria.”
Whilst the US has condemned attacks that target non-Daesh groups, they remain committed to “deconfliction” talks which they hope will stop US and coalition airstrikes clashing with Russian fighters while both are undertaking airstrikes.
The entrance of Russian fighter planes has, however, lowered the level of airstrikes being undertaken by the US, who have switched their focus to Iraq.
The US are concerned that Russia is attacking moderate rebels who, they say, have the best chance of defeating both Daesh and Assad. But these moderates include various strands of Islamists, most of whom split from the Free Syrian Army, and many of whom have ended up as part of the Islamic Front, Jabhat al-Nusrah or even Daesh.
Much of the US-provided weaponry found their way into the hands of these “moderates”. Robert Fisk reports in the Independent that the US trained an additional 70 fighters in 2015 and sent them into Syria via Turkey.
On their return to Syria, almost all of them were captured by Jabhat al-Nusra.