Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 14, 2016, p. 1
Despite the Russian-American agreements achieved in Geneva, local battles with militants of Jebhat al-Nusra, Islamic State (prohibited in Russia) and other terrorist groups are going on in Syria still. The Russian reconciliation center on the territory of Syria reported this. Along with this, both the US and Russia increase efforts for organization of a peaceful process in Syria.
RUSSIA BOMBS TERRORISTS IN SYRIA AND PREPARES A STAGING AIRFIELD IN IRAN AGAIN
Despite the Russian-American agreements achieved in Geneva, local battles with militants of Jabhat al-Nusra, Islamic State (prohibited in Russia) and other terrorist groups are going on in Syria still. The Russian reconciliation center on the territory of Syria reported this. Along with this, both the US and Russia increase efforts for organization of a peaceful process in Syria.
At a briefing US Secretary of State John Kerry reported that “definite decrease of violence” was registered in Syria. However, there are reports “about battles in some places and thus it is too early to draw any conclusions.” Kerry hinted that the main role in organization of the truce would be laid on the Russian party, which was outlined by the Russian-American plan. He expressed a hope that “this plan will reduce the level of violence and sufferings and movement towards coordinated peace and political transition” in Syria would be restarted.
The Russian party characterized the situation in a similar way. Head of the main operational directorate of the General Staff Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoy reports that Russia has a possibility to control the situation in the areas of Syria where the ceasefire regime is implemented. He added that for this purpose “operational groups were formed in all Syrian provinces by the Russian reconciliation center.”
Of course, it will be very difficult to control the situation by forces of Russian officers alone but according to reports of the Defense Ministry the Syrian party that has agreed with the Russian-American documents signed in Geneva participates in this actively. Along with this, Moscow does not hide that it takes its American partners in this process in a little reserved way.
For instance, head of the main operational directorate announced that for operational exchange of information and coordination of actions the channel of communication between the Russian reconciliation center at Hmeymim and analytical military political group of the US in Amman “should be immediately restored.” Along with this, according to him, Russian authorities are especially concerned about the situation in Aleppo. Rudskoy said, “We understand that there may appear a situation like in August of this year when deliveries of humanitarian aid of the UN to the eastern part of the city of Aleppo was stopped due to unwillingness of the armed opposition groups including those controlled by the US to let UN convoys through the territory occupied by them.” In turn, head of the Russian reconciliation center Lieutenant General Vladimir Savchenko announced directly that “fruitful wok on reconciliation of the opposing parties is hindered by the fact that the US does not provide information still that allows to clearly identify places and objects of Jabhat al-Nusra in the areas of active hostilities.” As if summing up these comments, General Rudskoy expressed a hope that “this time our American partners will fulfill all their obligations and the ceasefire regime is observed fully.”
Both the US and Russia believe that the ceasefire regime will be applicable only to moderate opposition ready for cooperation. Along with this, “Russian Airspace Forces will keep delivering strikes on targets of terrorists on the territory of Syria. For determination of objects for destruction the Russian and American parties will create a joint executive cater, which will allow coordination of strikes of the Airspace Forces of Russia and Aviation of the coalition headed by the US,” the Russian General Staff said. According to available information, the Russian Defense Ministry denies spreading of reports by some mass media according to initiative of the US about alleged implementation of no-fly zones in Syria and that during the time of the truce use of Syrian aviation will be suspended. A source in the Defense Ministry announced, “Use of Syrian aviation against the militants will be coordinated with the Russian command of the Airspace Forces in Syria still.’ The source adds that Russian and Syrian aviation will not deliver strikes “at opposition military formations that have announced stopping of combat operations.”
Meanwhile, expert community is very cautious about the prospects of long-term peace in Syria. Expert for the Middle East, member of the scientific council of the Moscow Carnegie Center Alexei Malashenko presumes that implementation of the Russian-American agreements on Syria achieved in Geneva will be interrupted. He stresses, “I do not believe that this is something stable.”
Lieutenant General Yevgeny Buzhinsky who has been the head of the international treaty directorate of the Defense Ministry for some time shares such conclusion in principle. He is convinced that it will be very difficult to observe the agreement on restoration of the ceasefire regime in Syria because besides the US and Russia hundreds of small military groups in Syria are supported by “regional players – Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf countries.” At this point it is possible to say that Israel and Iran play their own role in this process and are involved into the conflict on the territory of Syria to a certain extent.
Thus, there is a long way to go to peace in Syria still. This conclusion is confirmed to a certain extent by reports of the Russian reconciliation center in Syria. Its newsletter said that “Despite the announced truce the formations of Jaysh al-Islam group attributing itself to the opposition conducted combat operations in Damascus province.” Militants of Ahrar ash-Sham group did not join the ceasefire regime and bombarded some populated spots in Latakia. It is known that these groups that consist of up to 30,000 people in total according to some sources fight both against the governmental forces and against Islamic State. They are supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait. Russia proposed the UN Security Council to recognize these groups as terrorists but according to initiative of the US and Persian Gulf countries the resolution was not supported.
Most likely, the Syrian governmental forces and the Airspace Forces of Russia will continue combat operations against these and other irreconcilable groups. At least, judging by the incoming information, it is planned to increase the strikes on them. According to Sputnik news agency, Moscow and Tehra are currently discussing the terms of repeated use of Iranian air base Hamadan for delivery of strikes on terrorists in Syria. An informed source reported to Sputnik agency, “In a week An-124 and IL-76 airplanes of the military transport aviation will perform a few tens of flights and will deliver everything necessary for stationing of Tu-22 and Su-34 bombers to Hamadan.” There are no official confirmations of this information yet.