With the average report of Russian airstrikes in Syria now hovering around 60 per day, the global situation is just as complicated as ever before. According to major news media outlets this number is more than double the frequency of air sorties carried out at the beginning of the Russian campaign.
Tensions are still high over the sorties’ questionable objectives, with Western nations fearing that behind Moscow’s stated intentions lie more controversial motives. Russian involvement was announced as a carefully coordinated series of strikes carried out against “terrorist groups,” chiefly ISIS. Causing much concern in the United States, Great Britain, and other Western nations, Russia has proceeded to deliver strikes mostly against Syrian rebels and Sunni Muslims, enemies of the Russian-backed Syrian government, the Assad Regime.
Empowered by Russian military aid, the Syrian government has gained ground, taking back land previously occupied by rebel forces. The fighting is fierce as the Syrian rebels redouble their efforts aided by a new supply of U.S. made TOW missiles. These missiles are effective anti-vehicle and anti-air weapons. It is speculated that the continued arms aid offered to the rebels by the US-led anti-ISIS coalition combined with the ongoing Russian military action could signal the start of a proxy war.
Adding to the chaos is the uproar over Russian caused civilian casualties including the three medical facilities claimed to have been hit by Russian airstrikes over the last month. Assad has been targeting the Syrian health system for years, a war crime that directly violates the protections granted to medical personnel and facilities by the international laws of war, including the Geneva convention. While the facilities attacked were over 30 miles from territory controlled by the Islamic State, Russia still claims that these attacks were part of the nation’s campaign against ISIS.
Russia’s air campaign was launched after the foiling of an attempted terror attack on the Russian public transportation system. Russian authorities say that the arrested suspects were trained by ISIS. More than 2,500 Russians have left the country to fight for ISIS, and Moscow is uncertain how this bodes for life in Russia. President Vladimir Putin claims that the best way to combat the threat of the Islamic State is by supporting Assad in his fight to reclaim ruler-ship of Syria. Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization strongly disagree. President Obama has stated that Assad has no long term place in Syria, and NATO continues to support rebel groups throughout Syria, most recently manifested in a shipment of over 50 tons of munitions to aid in the fight against Assad and ISIS.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS and ISIL, is a radical Muslim terrorist group that was born out of Al Qaeda in the early 2000s, it has since grown and morphed. The savage and ruthless tactics employed by ISIS continue to shock the world, including recorded executions, slavery, and rape. Another notorious aspect of the ISIS operational motif is the destruction of ancient artifacts. The radical terror group has been destroying priceless structures, statues, and sites of great cultural and historical significance. ISIS has managed to conquer and control considerable territory. ISIS has drawn recruits from all over the world, including the U.S. The bureaucratic organization of the group is impressive and professional. The terror organization is exceedingly well funded, drawing a on a vast pool of financial resources procured from sources including donations, the revenue of captured oil, and extortion.
The situation has been delicate in Syria since 2011, when riots broke out over the treatment of several teenagers pro-democracy demonstration. The protests were answered with lethal force, which escalated the situation severely. Consequently, opposition to the Assad regime rose sharply. As more protesters turned out to voice their dissent, government forces cracked down hard. Demonstrators began to defend themselves against the brutal oppression of the government, and eventually moved to push the autocracy’s forces out of their lands. Rebel groups have been formed to expel Assad, and have been involved in pitched battle over cities throughout Syria ever since.
As the fighting continues, religion has come into the equation as different groups represent different Muslim sects as well as traditional Muslim faith groups, coinciding with the rise of the radical Islamic State. The use of chemical weapons on the part of the Assad regime and the perpetration of war crimes by the Jihadist Islamic state darken the scene. In addition, the conflicts has displaced upwards of 10 millions refugees and left over 250,000 dead, many of the dead being women and children.