This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Damning Russia

"What [Russia] is doing is propping up the Assad regime, making the resolution of all this more difficult. They are prolonging the conflict and civilians are being killed." 
"The RAF strikes are done to very strict rules of engagement. They’ve been striking in Iraq for a year where so far there have been no civilian casualties. The Russians have been at it in Syria for a couple of weeks and independent reports estimate that they’ve killed several hundred people already."
"When you have this activity – you’ve seen on the Turkish border, which is a NATO border, you’ve seen incursions into Turkish airspace. Obviously there is the danger of accidents, of incidents taking place that inflame the tension." "I don't think we should let Russia divert us for a moment from our focus against ISIL."
Michael Fallon, British Secretary of Defence

The Russian military's bombing mission in Syria meant to prop up President Bashar al Assad's regime at a critical time when the rebel militias were pressing toward success, has vastly complicated the myriad conflicts taking place in that destroyed country. In the month that the Russian bombardment has been taking place, more Syrians have been forced to flee as refugees to seek haven abroad, to escape the fate that is befalling civilians living in the northwestern and central provinces of Idlib, Hama and Homs.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London, and dependent on reports from rebel loyalist witnesses on the scene, has stated it has confirmation of 185 civilians killed during the past month, all associated with Russian strikes. The toll among ISIL fighters in those strikes came to 131 killed. While 46 women and 48 children have been killed by indiscriminate strikes. But the heaviest toll of all was among Syrian rebels with no connection to ISIL, where 279 were killed.

That, in comparison to the U.S.-led air campaign which has killed 3,726 ISIL jihadis, representing an average of 252 a month put out of commission. And which has also tragically led to a total of 225 Syrian civilians killed, according to the statistics provided by the Observatory. The Russians insist they make use of a number of intelligence sources to ensure strikes don't end in 'collateral damage'; the bloodless term for killing civilians, thus absolving themselves.

The Russian air campaign has breathed new life into Assad's forces' strength where ground offensives have been launched against rebels under cover of the Russian air support. The deadly combination of strikes plus the offensives has resulted in a surge of 120,000 Syrians fleeing their homes, last month according to the United Nations. Activists on the ground provide detailed figures for both the UN and the Observatory.

Those witnesses have no trouble distinguishing Russian airstrikes from the airstrikes committed by the Syrian air force since the regime's strikes are crude by comparison, reflective of a lower level of technology. And Russian warplanes tend to move in squadrons identifiable to people on the ground, to strike from a greater elevation, using infinitely more powerful ordnance. As well, activist groups check reports they prepare for accuracy against daily announcements by Russia on targeted areas.

For what it's worth in the larger international arena and within the United Nations, the Syrian National Coalition backed by the west as a legitimate and trustworthy Syrian opposition group, has named Russian attacks as "amount[ing] to war crimes and crimes against humanity", the appropriate response being condemnation by the UN Security Council. No one is prepared to hold their breath that Russia, a member of the Security Council, would be agreeable to condemning its own actions.

Still from a video showing Russian air strikes in Syria

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