by Jason Ditz
With the introduction of Russian warplanes carrying out airstrikes in Syria, the US is dramatically ratcheting up its rhetoric against the involvement of anyone not formally part of their coalition in the conflict, saying that Russia is “doomed to failure” in their attempts to fight ISIS.
That might be dismissed simply as sour grapes, as America’s own war against ISIS is already going extremely poorly and they’re loathe to see anyone achieve their military goals against ISIS as a consequence. At the same time, however, State Department officials warn they view Russia’s involvement with “grave concern” and are demanding that Russia not launch any airstrikes against non-ISIS rebel forces.
Ironically, this is the exact same thing the US was heavily criticized for early in their war in Syria, as the Pentagon has not restricted its airstrikes to ISIS, but attacked multiple factions, particularly al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, a move that fueled angry claims for other rebels that the US was undermining the rebellion, just like the US says Russia is now.
Pentagon officials say some of Russia’s early airstrikes “probably” weren’t in ISIS-held areas, though they were in the Homs Province, where ISIS has considerable influence. Some other rebel factions that have been armed in the past by the US are claiming that Russia hit them, while still other factions are claiming Russia hit random civilians.
Put even with US officials wringing their hands about Russia’s involvement in the war, State Department officials are saying that it won’t impact America’s war in Syria, and that they’re going to continue attacking targets in Syria.
This statement too is a confusing one, as Russia never called on the US to stop attacking ISIS, it was the other way around. Russia, indeed, has suggested the two nations should coordinate in fighting ISIS, something the US has rejected doing.