Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Russia Demands U.S. Clear Airspace In Syria Then Launches Airstrike, Russia Now In Control Of The Region

Unlike the U.S., Russia doesn't split hairs in terms of sorting out "favorable" or "moderate" terrorists to "unfavorable terrorists", but considers all terrorist groups to be a threat to them and to Syria. The U.S. is perplexed that Russia is launching attacks against the terrorists that the U.S. favors and funds. America was under the impression that Russia would only target ISIS but not other terrorist groups in the region (who threaten the Syrian government), but obviously Russia sees no point in such distinctions. 

Russia launches airstrikes in northern Syria, senior military official says

Russian warplanes began bombarding Syrian opposition targets in the war-torn nation's north Wednesday, following a terse meeting at which a Russian general asked Pentagon officials to clear out of Syrian air space and was rebuffed, Fox News has learned.

A U.S. official said Russian airstrikes targeted fighters in the vicinity of Homs, located roughly 60 miles east of a Russian naval facility in Tartus, and were carried out by a "couple" of Russian bombers. The strikes hit targets in Homs and Hama, but there is no presence of ISIS in those areas, a senior U.S. defense official said. These planes are hitting areas where Free Syrian Army and other anti-Assad groups are located, the official said.
Activists and a rebel commander on the ground said the Russian airstrikes have mostly hit moderate rebel positions and civilians. In a video released by the U.S.-backed rebel group Tajamu Alezzah, jets are seen hitting a building claimed to be a location of the group in the town of Latamna in the central Hama province.
The group commander Jameel al-Saleh told a local Syrian news website that the group's location was hit by Russian jets but didn't specify the damage.
A group of local activists in the town of Talbiseh in Homs province recorded at least 16 civilians killed, including two children.
According to a U.S. senior official, Presidents Obama and Putin agreed on a process to "deconflict" military operations. The Russians on Wednesday "bypassed that process," the official said.

The development came after Pentagon officials, in a development first reported by Fox News, brushed aside an official request, or "demarche," from Russia to clear air space over northern Syria, where Moscow said it intended to conduct airstrikes against ISIS on behalf of Assad, according to sources who spoke to Fox News. The request was made in a heated discussion between a Russian three-star general and U.S. officials at the American Embassy in Baghdad, sources said. 
"If you have forces in the area we request they leave," said the general, who used the word "please" in the contentious encounter.
A senior Pentagon official said the U.S., which also has been conducting airstrikes against ISIS, but does not support Assad, said the request was not honored.

Russia and the United States faced off at the United Nations on Wednesday over parallel air campaigns against Islamic State in Syria, with both sides claiming legitimacy for their actions but differing over the role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Hours after Russian launched its first air strikes, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a Security Council meeting that Moscow would liaise with the U.S.-led coalition of Western allies and regional states that has been flying missions for a year.
The United States, France and other allies questioned whether the Russian planes had hit Islamic State positions, as Moscow said, saying they were in fact aimed at Western-backed rebels who have fought both Islamic State and Assad's forces. 
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Russia had informed the United States of its intended strikes an hour in advance through a diplomat in Baghdad and asked that U.S. aircraft avoid Syrian airspace.
The Russian attacks occurred before Moscow and Washington had begun agreed talks on "deconfliction": averting clashes between different militaries operating in the same theater. U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, meeting at the United Nations on Monday, had agreed that such consultations would take place.
Reflecting growing tension between the big powers, Kerry phoned Lavrov early on Wednesday to tell him the United States regarded the strikes as dangerous, a U.S. official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
But Kerry told the Security Council that, while coalition operations would continue, Washington would welcome Russian strikes if they were genuinely aimed at Islamic State or other militant groups affiliated with al Qaeda.
Kerry said the United States would be troubled if Russia struck areas where those groups were not present, adding this would suggest Moscow's real aim was to prop up longtime ally Assad, who is on the defensive after a four-year civil war.
The Homs area attacked by Russian planes is crucial to Assad's control of western Syria. Insurgent control of that area would bisect the Assad-held west, separating Damascus from coastal cities where Russia has military facilities. 
"We must not and will not be confused in our fight against ISIL with support for Assad," Kerry said, using an acronym for Islamic State. "ISIL itself cannot be defeated as long as Bashar al-Assad remains president of Syria."

That Russia launched its first air strikes in Syria Wednesday, Sept. 30 was confirmed by the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow and criticized by US officials. Moscow stressed that it acted in support of Bashar Assad’s war on the Islamic State, assisted by other foreign powers including Iran and Iraq working together from an allied command center in Baghdad. Its targets were described as stores, ammunition dumps and vehicles, located according to US sources around Homs and Hama. The Russian communiqu├ęs did not indicate which organizations were bombed.
The Russian aerial offensive marks a turning point in Middle East affairs. Russia is emerging strongly as the number one power in the region. 
The governments which hitherto coordinated their military polices with the US, like those of Israel, Jordan and Turkey will have to reassess their orientation and affinities in a hurry.
For Israel it is the end of years of freedom for its air force to strike its enemies from the skies of Syria or Lebanon. It also marks the end of any plans Turkey and Jordan may have entertained for setting up buffer and no-fly zones in Syria to protect their borders.
A senior US official said that Russian diplomats had sent an official demarche ordering US planes to quit Syria, adding that Russian fighter jets were now flying over Syrian territory. US military sources told Fox News that US planes would not comply with the Russian demand. "There is nothing to indicate that we are changing operations over Syria," a senior defense official said.
Russian preparations for military action in Syria are clearly not limited to that country. They are being run by a joint coordination forward command and war room established a few days ago by Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria in Baghdad. It is designed as the counterpart of the US Central Command-Forward-Jordan war room established north of Amman for joint US-Saudi-Qatari-Israeli-Jordanian and UAE operations in support of Syrian rebel operations against the Assad regime.
Two rival power war rooms are therefore poised at opposite ends of the Syrian arena – one representing a US-led alliance for operations against Assad, and the other a Russian-led group which is revving up to fight on his behalf.
 US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter instructed his staff to establish a communication channel with the Kremlin to ensure the safety of US and Russian military operations and “avoid conflict in the air” between the two militaries. The Russian defense ministry shot back with a provocative stipulation that coordination with the US must go through Baghdad, an attempt to force Washington to accept that the two war rooms would henceforth communicate on equal terms.
Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon denied Tuesday night that Israel was coordinating its operations with the Russian army, stressing that Israel reserves the IDF’s right to freedom of action over Syria and would continue to prevent arms supplies reaching terrorist organizations such as Hizballah.
Meanwhile, six advanced Russian SU-34 strike fighter jets landed at Latakia’s Al-Assad international airport, after flying to their destination through Iraqi airspace.

The Russian military buildup is assuming far greater proportions than either imagined, far outpacing US or Israeli efforts at coordination.  


Caver said...

Well, the playing field is getting kind of crowded. Geepers, ya can't make this stuff up....

Saudi Arabia Seizes Iranian Ship "Laden With Missile Launchers, Anti-Tank Weapons"

ally said...

Caver, tighter than a tick over there right now. Is this it? It's pretty close.....