Reprinted from Strategic Culture Foundation
After a year of bombing the Syrian desert with negligible results in terms of defeating terror groups -- as memorably noted by Russian lawmaker Alexei Pushkov -- all of a sudden the so-called anti-terror coalition led by the United States seems to have discovered a high degree of logistical precision.
The US and its allies claim that Russian air strikes, commencing on September 30, have failed to hit the jihadis of Islamic State (IS, ISIS or ISIL), also known as Daesh. Russia, according to Washington and the Western news media, has been striking moderate rebels and civilians, and in the process shoring up the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
There's nothing amiss under international law about supporting the sovereign government of Syria, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently stipulated. So let's kick that Western objection out first of all.
As for alleged civilian casualties, CNN, BBC, France 24 and so on have so far not provided one report of funerals or hospital scenes, to verify their earlier high-flown accusations. And this after more than a week since the alleged Russian atrocities began.
But what is telling about the latest Western protests over Russia's military intervention is the apparent omniscient precision about who and where the terror groups are.
Washington officials and Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of the US-led NATO military alliance, this week claimed that over 90 percent of Russian air strikes were not against ISIS or Al Qaeda.
The US and NATO's precise enumeration chimes with that of Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who claimed that only two out of 57 Russian air strikes in Syria hit IS targets.
The question that the supine Western media should be asking the NATO chief and his Washington superiors is this: if you can so clearly quantify and delineate the IS and Al Qaeda bases, then why has the US-led coalition evidently been wasting 12 months bombing empty desert spaces instead of degrading and defeating these groups, as vowed by US President Barack Obama over a year ago?
Since September 2014, the US and some 60 other allied nations, including NATO members, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been bombing Syria and Iraq with the stated purpose of wiping out the IS terror network. So far, more than 9,000 air strikes have been carried out by the US-led coalition, but until Russia opened up its air campaign more than a week ago, the IS and other jihadis had been steadily growing in strength and territory -- despite all that US-led air power supposedly raining down on them.
By contrast, Russia's air strikes in Syria appear to have achieved more in one week than Washington's coalition has in more than one year. And when we say achieved more we mean significant blows against terror groups.
Initial Western claims -- citing dubious opposition sources -- of dozens of civilian casualties caused by Russian attacks have since dissipated without trace. No follow-up evidence, reports or photos of civilian losses has been presented. That indicates that the initial Western claims were nothing more than a despicable disinformation stunt.
Russian military chiefs have been vindicated that their air campaign -- now augmented by cruise missiles fired from warships in the Caspian Sea -- has been closely coordinated with Syrian government forces in order to avoid any civilian victims.
Russia has directed most of its fire power at Al Qaeda-affiliated groups in the West and North of Syria around Hama, Idlib and Aleppo, where the threat to the Syrian state's viability was most acute. These militia include Al Nusra, Ahrar al Shams, Jund al Aqsa and a host of others under the umbrella name, Army of Conquest. The IS network is more disposed in the East of Syria towards the border with Iraq. There is every expectation that Russia will turn its fire power to that region next after it has neutralised the threat in the East and North.
Nonetheless, Russia is correct in defining that all these groups come under the rubric of criminal extremists. They are mainly composed of foreign mercenaries who are fighting to topple the sovereign government of Syria. That makes them legitimate targets for Russian air strikes.
The notion contrived by the West that the only terrorist danger in Syria is that posed by the IS group is a meaningless game of semantics. It is just a way for the West to try to impose restrictions on Russia's legitimate operations.