Russian missiles

Russian soldiers carry along some missiles

As the world becomes more and more concerned about Russia’s intervention in Syria, two US military officials have said that four Russian cruise missiles launched from the Caspian Sea fell short of their Syrian targets and landed in rural Iran.  These errant strikes were part of a volley of 26 long-range cruise missiles that Russia had fired on Wednesday.  The flight path for these cruise missiles took them over Iran and Iraq.  Since one of the officials said the US couldn’t detect any casualties or damage from the errant strikes, it’s possible that the missiles fell harmlessly in Iran.

After recently starting to conduct airstrikes and expand its military presence in Syria, Russia has denied that any striked have missed their Syrian targets, claims that Iran’s defense ministry dismissed as “psychological warfare”.  Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has characterized Russia’s behavior as “unprofessional” after Russian aircraft violated Turkish airspace and came within miles of a US drone.  Russian ships have also fired cruise missiles without warning, and their armies have been backing the Syrian government in a “joint ground offensive”.  According to the US, Russia’s cruise missiles and airstrikes appear aimed at supporting the ground offensive and attacking the more secular forces opposing Assad.

Russia has insisted they’re targeting the ISIS and other extremist groups in Syria, while the US has said they’re more focused on combating ISIS while also pushing for a political transition to remove Assad from power.  Russia’s assistance has energized the Syrian army, which had earlier been on the ropes.  Syrian chief of staff Gen. Ali Ayoub claims that the new offensive, centered on the central and northwestern parts of the country, is aimed on “liberating” the area from terrorist groups.  While Ayoub didn’t specify the target areas for the new offensive, he said that Syria had created new fighting units, augmented by Russian strikes against ISIS.

I once heard that the situation in Syria right now isn’t a matter of “good guys vs. bad guys”, but rather an instance of “bad guys vs. worse guys”.  Seeing what ISIS is doing, it’s easy to just write them off as the “bad guys”, and whoever is fighting them as “good guys”.  Yet anybody saying something like that about Assad, even if he does bring an end to ISIS, would be sorely mistaken, and thinking that Putin didn’t have some ulterior motives for helping him would be naïve.  If you’d like to learn more, you can click here!