Moscow’s formal entry into Syria — with the construction of new military bases stocked with heavy weaponry and aircraft — has forced the US and neighboring Israel to readjust.
Vladimir Putin has received permission, on Wednesday 30th of September, from parliament for Russian forces to take place in bombing raids in Syria, two days after the Russian leader spoke to the UN and called for an international coalition against terrorism to fight Islamic State.
Putin said in New York (UN) that Russia would not carry out ground operations in Syria, and his chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, emphasised this again on Wednesday, saying the request to the federation council referred exclusively to airstrikes. He did not give any figures of the number of planes likely to be involved or the number of Russian military specialists on the ground inside Syria to back up the operation.
Moscow says it is interested in fighting terrorism worldwide, from the Northern Caucasus to eastern Syria, where Islamic State (IS or ISIS) has concentrated its power. For that reason, Moscow continues to support the Assad’s regime, the only figure who is “truly fighting” the group according to President Putin.
Government officials in Washington and Jerusalem now acknowledge that Russia’s role in the Syrian conflict is unavoidable and must be accommodated.
US forces continue to operate against IS targets in Syria and have refused to strike Assad’s military assets. But parallel operations between US and Russian forces, both against IS, now must work to “deconflict” with one another.
That is the current focus of discussion: Fashioning deconflict mechanisms that ensure Russian military units do not come into conflict with US-led coalition units fighting IS.
Similar deconflict mechanisms are a priority of the Israeli government, and were the primary point of conversation in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow this month. He and Putin agreed on a deconflict communications channel, according to Israeli officials.
Israel has struck targets within Syria several times over the past year, destroying arms transfers facilitated by Iran and destined for Lebanese Hezbollah. While the strikes will continue on a case-bycase basis, Moscow’s sudden presence on the ground – in alliance with Assad and Iran – heightens the risk of unintended conflict between Israeli and Russian forces.
Russia now hopes to form an anti-IS coalition, separate and apart from the coalition formed by the United States, which centers on the legitimacy of Assad and his government.
To that end, an information- sharing center has been set up in Baghdad for Iran, Iraq, Russia and Syria to share intelligence, a Russian official said on Tuesday. One senior American official downplayed the news, noting that Russia had been sharing intelligence with Iran and Syria for years.
At least 18 Palestinians were injured on Tuesday, 29th of September, as Israeli forces suppressed demonstrations across the occupied West Bank in support of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Twelve Palestinians were injured as Israeli forces suppressed a protest near Ramallah, with three demonstrators reportedly injured by live fire.
Demonstrators had marched from the center of Ramallah to the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El north of el-Bireh to protest ongoing violations and clashes at the Jerusalem holy site.
Israeli forces fired tear gas, water canons, live fire, and rubber-coated steel bullets at the demonstrators and as a result dozens suffered tear gas inhalation, including journalists who were covering the demonstration.
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