Could Russia's presence in Syria end up helping Daesh?

Published September 26th, 2015 - 07:22 GMT
A picture taken on Sept. 12, 2015 shows Russian T-80 tanks during a performance marking the Tankmen Day at a training ground outside St. Petersburg. (AFP/File)
A picture taken on Sept. 12, 2015 shows Russian T-80 tanks during a performance marking the Tankmen Day at a training ground outside St. Petersburg. (AFP/File)

Russia's presence in Syria may seem like good news to President Bashar al-Assad supporters, but the big picture may look a little different.

A new study published by British think tank Royal United Services Institute says Russian military assistance was deployed to places where the regime is fighting rebel forces. Those opposition fighters are the ones making strides against Daesh. 

Russia itself has high stakes when it comes to Daesh. The country had 1,700 nationals fighting in the extremist group in 2014, according to Russia Today. Daesh leaders, like Chechen Abu Omar al-Shishani who played a large role in Daesh's Anbar advances, have also threatened Russia with attacks. 

That said, the deployment of Russian troops to Tartus and Latakia, areas where Daesh has no presence, means they'll be assisting the Syrian army against rebel forces — and, in the long run, helping Daesh. 

"The real concern is that an intervention which began as a counter-insurgency campaign could now become something much deeper, with — ironically — ISIS the only real winner," RUSI wrote. 

Groups like Ahrar al-Sham and al-Nusra Front have made significant territory gains against Daesh in other areas like the Idlib province. And RUSI's 53-page report points out that Russia has been "hesitant" when it comes to fighting Daesh directly, despite the threats Daesh poses to the country.

Read the full report here

By Hayat Norimine


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