Iran, Russia, Hezbollah from Lebanon, and even Iraq have united with Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad to defeat the jihadists that are attempting to destroy his hold on power. Reuters reported that hundreds of Iranian troops had come into Syria in the last 10 days.
“The vanguard of Iranian ground forces began arriving in Syria: soldiers and officers specifically to participate in this battle. They are not advisors … we mean hundreds with equipment and weapons. They will be followed by more.” Source to Reuters
The Syrian government’s army is being joined by Iranian forces, Russian troops (which Putin received permission to send on Wednesday), Hezbollah- (the Iranian backed terror group from Lebanon), and even some forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. Hezbollah has been on the ground in Syria for some time, and Iran has had troops in Syria previously. But this may be more than the usual “military advisors.”
The troops are focused on retaking areas lost to jihadists. One source claimed that the ground campaigns might be in the “Idlib and Hama countryside.”
Backed by Russian airstrikes- whose pilots actually do know how to fly- there is a possibility of serious advances against the anti-Assad rebel groups in Northwestern Syria earlier in the year. Interestingly, Russia’s bombs targeted a rebel group that had been trained by the CIA.
That fact puts the U.S. and Russia on opposing sides of any ground advances. Now maybe we understand why Russia told us to stay out of their way. A video conference call today took place for over an hour between Russia and the United States to discuss ways the two air campaigns could avoid each other.
Up until now, most of the military aid to Syria has been “advisors.” If this signals new changes in that situation, it may mean a concerted effort to eradicate Assad’s opposition, which actually includes ISIS eventually. But apparently business first- as Russian airstrikes thus far have been against rebel targets rather than the Islamic State.
It looks to be the beginning of an interesting situation as Shit’ites battle Sunnis, and the cold war re-heats up.