Syria Conflict: Fight continues, Russia ‘withdraws’

Edited by Nelly Tawil

A new offensive by the Russian military and its Syrian allies may be underway in and around Aleppo as the partial truce in Syria nosedives and peace talks weaken.

According to the Pentagon which was quoted last week, forces loyal to the Syrian government were beginning “to mass and concentrate combat power around Aleppo.”

“It is primarily [the] al-Nusra [Front] who holds Aleppo, and, of course, al-Nusra is not part of the cessation of hostilities. So it’s complicated. We’re watching it,” said the US spokesman.

The media message in Russian military campaigns has been inconsistency with the reality of events on the ground as has often occurred in recent times.

President Vladimir Putin around mid-March has announced Russia’s intentions to pull back its forces from Syria leading to about half of the deployed jets departing from the Russian air base near Latakia.

However their departure did not deter their military operations, Russian strike missions continued now bolstered by the arrival of some of the Russian military’s latest attack helicopters – the Ka-52 and the Mi-28N.

It seems for the moment Russia’s support for President Assad remains firm. Russia wants to consolidate the Syrian government’s position – but it doesn’t want to remain engaged in combat in Syria forever.

The US has repeatedly criticised Russia’s air campaign for largely striking at Western-backed groups fighting the Syrian government, rather than so-called Islamic State (IS).