Russian Marine Brigade 810 fought with Syrian army and Hizballah special forces in an attack on ISIS forces at the Kweiris airbase, east of Aleppo.
This operation runs contrary to the assurances of President Vladimir Putin to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sept. 21 – just three days ago - that Russian forces in Syria were only there to defend Russian interests and would not engaged in combat with the Syrian army, Hizballah or Iranian troops.
The ISIS force defending the air base is dominated by Chechen fighters under the command of Abu Omar al-Shishani, who is considered one of the terrorist organization’s leading commanders in the last two years. The 27-year-old al-Shishani hails from the Chechen enclave of Pankisi in Georgia, like many others who joined ISIS from 2012.
However, targeting Chechen fighters was not the only reason for the order given by Russian command in Syria to attack the air base.
As their first step, the Russians would have to prevent the cutoff of highway 5, running from Aleppo to Damascus, and keep it open for Syrian army reinforcements and military equipment to the city.
The offensive to regain Kweiris airbase that fell to ISIS in mid-June is the first step in the implementation of Russia’s operational plan for the Aleppo area.
Meanwhile, little substance was to be found in the reports appearing, mainly in the United States, suggesting that Putin, disappointed by the Obama administration’s unwillingness to send the US Air Force to collaborate with Russia in the fight against ISIS, would try to talk Obama round if and when they meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on September 28.
While Russia poured troops and advanced hardware into Syria, establishing bases and launching offensive action, the US anti-Islamic State effort suffered a heavy blow with the decision of Obama’s ISIS war czar, Gen. John Allen, to step down in early November.
Sources close to the general were quoted as referring to his frustration “with the White House micromanagement of the war and its failure to provide adequate resources.”'
The fact that the Russian forces launched their attack on ISIS shortly after the announcement of Allen’s upcoming resignation shows that Putin is not waiting for US cooperation in the war on the Islamist terrorists.
Russian marines were combined with Syrian and Hizballah special forces.
For the first time in 41 years, since the 1974 war of attrition against the IDF on the Golan, Russian troops are fighting alongside Syrian forces. It is also the first time that a world power like Russia is willing to go into battle with an acknowledged terrorist group, such as Hizballah.
Alongside plans for two new bases on the border with Ukraine the Kremlin has also moved military hardware to its Baltic enclave in Kaliningrad, approved a new air base in Belarus and beefed up its military presence in Crimea as a sign of its increasing aggression on the world stage.
China has made two things absolutely clear this year: 1) if Beijing thinks you may be inclined to sell stocks into a falling market, the consequences for you could be dire, and 2) the PLA navy is quite serious about projecting China’s maritime ambitions to the rest of the world.
Evidence of the latter point is readily observable in the South China Sea, where dredgers have been busy for months building man-made islands atop reefs in the Spratlys much to the chagrin of Washington and its regional allies.
Then there was the PLA’s unexpected arrival in Yemen back in March when a naval frigate showed up in Aden and evacuated 225 foreign nationals.
And who can forget the five ships that cruised by just 12 miles off the coast of Alaska as Obama toured the state.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, at least one commander in Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Arab Army now claimsChinese personnel are on their way to Latakia.
All of this comes as Beijing rolls out a new maritime initiative as outlined in the government’s 2015 defense strategy white paper. H
Now, even as Xi Jinping makes the rounds in the US and attempts to provide the American public with some clarity on a number of issues not the least of which is cyber security, the Pentagon says China is set to deploy a nuclear submarine armed with JL-2 missiles that have the range to hit the US. Here’s Bloomberg with the story:
A new Chinese nuclear submarine designed to carry missiles that can hit the U.S. will likely deploy before year’s end, the Pentagon said, adding to Obama administration concerns over China’s muscle-flexing in Asia.
China’s navy is expected this year to conduct the first patrol of its Jin-class nuclear-powered submarine armed with JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency said in a statement. It declined to give its level of confidence on when the new boat will be deployed or the status of the missile.
“The capability to maintain continuous deterrent patrols is a big milestone for a nuclear power,” Larry Wortzel, a member of the congressionally created U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said in an e-mail. “I think the Chinese would announce this capability as a show of strength and for prestige.”
Ultimately, the deployment was planned and as indicated above, this doesn't exactly come as a surprise to anyone in military circles, but what it does do is underscore the idea that the return to bipolarity is more likely to see China as the counterbalance to US hegemony than it is to see a resurrgent Russia retake its place as US spoiler par excellence. Of course Beijing and Moscow seem generally to be on the same page as evidenced by their security council veto coordination on Syria which means that between the two, the balance of power could move against the US especially if Washington's warnings about the UK's declining military capabilities prove accurate.
Earlier this week, the Islamic State blew up 21 homes belonging to Christians in the once Christian majority Nineveh Plain, northeast of Mosul.