Russland er ikke alene i Syria. Hundrevis av iranske soldater ankom landet for ti dager siden, og hadde våpen med seg, melder Reuters.

Det bekrefter at Iran og Russland har planlagt å endre det strategiske bildet på slagmarken.

Hizbollah og Iran setter i gang en større bakkeoffensiv for å fortsette å ha initiativet etter at russiske fly har endret situasjonen.

Reuters‘ Lebanese sources say hundreds of Iranian forces arrived in Syria 10 days ago with weapons to take part in ground operations.

The same sources say the Russian air strikes will soon be accompanied by Syrian army and allied ground advances.

Hizbollah itself is preparing to take part in a big ground operation in northern Syria.

The sources that Reuters have spoken to say the arrival of Iranian troops with weapons and Hizbollah joining the operation aims to help Bashar al-Assad recapture territory.

The ground operation would accompany the Russian strikes as mentioned: «The (Russian) air strikes will in the near future be accompanied by ground advance by the Syrian army and its allies,» one of the sources said.

Hvem er det Russland rammer?

Det er ingen IS-styrker i Idlib-området, derimot er det styrker fra Army of Conquest, en islamistisk allianse hvor også Nusrafronten inngår. Denne alliansen er farligere for Assad enn IS.

De truet tidligere i år Latakia, som er alawittenes kjerneområde. Kanskje Russland/Irans fremstøt er å sikre Latakia-området og korridoren til Damaskus?

Men en offensiv mot Jaish al-Fatah vil provosere salafister i Midtøsten. De har ikke glemt Sovjets okkupasjon av Afghanistan. Den gang ble de vantro fordrevet i en global jihad. En russisk inngripen kan utløse en tilsvarende respons, særlig når de er i allianse med shiaene, som også er vantro i øynene til mange salafister.

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Det er duket for en fortsettelse av krigen, mer bitter enn noen gang.

Jebel al-Zawiya – the first major area to fall under unchallenged rebel control in Syria back in 2012 – and Jisr al-Shughour, a town which fell to the rebels in April – have no Isil presence.

Indeed, they are held by an alliance – Jaish al-Fatah, or Army of Conquest – that has been fighting Isil more successfully across northern Syria than the regime for the last 18 months.

..

The Jaish al-Fatah includes a number of Islamist groups, most powerful among them Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra. Jabhat al-Nusra is the local affiliate of al-Qaeda, so it will be hard for the West to criticise these attacks or to quibble at the Russian description of the targets as «terrorist».

There is also, now, a tremendous risk of escalation. These rebels earlier in the summer mounted an attack on Latakia to the west, which is the heartland of the Alawite sect from which the regime comes. They then failed to press their attack, concentrating forces further south, presumably a political decision. Jaish al-Fatah – or at least, some of its constituents – are backed by Turkey and Qatar, which exercise some restraint over them and would not want to see bad publicity arising from attacks on Alawite civilians.

Det Robert Spencer antyder er at Assad ikke vil ha noe mot at Army of Conquest avslører sine sekteriske sider, selv om det skulle ramme hans egen gruppe. Assad har ofret egne soldater i hopetall til IS.

En slik utvikling vil vise at det er en kamp på liv og død for alawittene, og det vil bli et PR-problem for Qatar, Tyrkia og Saudi-Arabia, som støtter Jaish al-Fatah.

There is now a risk – highlighted by some Western analysts with good contacts among rebel groups – that the Jaish al-Fatah will now press forward with attacks in Latakia in retaliation.

That might be part of the strategies – now closely co-ordinated – of Mr Assad and Mr Putin. The real threat to the regime comes from the non-Isil rebels. Mr Assad’s best hope of survival is not of beating them outright – he has admitted that he cannot – but that they can be gulled into overtly sectarian attacks, which their backers have tried to prevent them from carrying out.

Men hvis Iran og Russland «ups the ante»- øker innsatsen vil neppe de tre sunni-statene la menneskelige hensyn komme i veien. Krigen og dens utfall betyr mer enn PR utad. Det er utenkelig at Saudi-Arabia og Qatar eller Tyrkia vil la Iran vinne.

 

telegraph.co.uk

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