After surprising the world several months back by announcing Russia’s partial withdrawal from Syria and entering into negotiations with the United States and other powers to cease hostilities, it seems Russia may be preparing to re-escalate the military option in the Syrian civil war. The primary reason seems to be the Assad government’s failure to cement gains in the Aleppo region without Russian support in the form of airstrikes and mercenary forces on the ground.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters Monday that Russia would provide “the most active” support to the Syrian army to keep the strategic city of Aleppo and the surrounding area from falling into the hands of “terrorists,” reports Business Insider. “What is happening in and around Aleppo now is what we had warned the Americans about beforehand — and they know it: that we will in the most active way support the Syrian army from the air not to allow the seizure of this territory by terrorists.”
Of course the term “terrorist” is dependent on one’s allegiances in the conflict. Many of these groups are ‘moderate opposition forces backed by the West. The rate of Russian airstrikes in the last few days has increased to levels not seen since before the ceasefire went into effect.
Russia is wary of American efforts to shelter certain groups not included in the ceasefire. “I have an impression, which is supported by yet unconfirmed facts, that these [moderate] groups intentionally occupy al-Nusra front positions in order to prevent al-Nusra from being attacked,” Lavrov stated according to Business Insider.
It seems Moscow is not going to allow Russia’s gains in the Middle East to be erased. This is a much different policy than the Obama administration which forfeited the efforts of thousands of American casualties and much treasure expended.