The past 15 months changed things dramatically on the ground. Russia’s intervention was a game-changer, short of decisive so far. Hopefully liberating Syria from its US-supported terrorist scourge is possible with a changing of the guard in Washington.
Trump expressed an intention to cooperate with Russia in combating terrorism, an agenda polar opposite Obama’s if he follows through responsibly.
War so far continues. Announced cessation of hostilities with numerous terrorist groups remains shaky. On January 7 alone, Russia’s reconciliation center reported 24 ceasefire violations.
According to the center, “Russian officials in the Russian-Turkish joint commission set up to monitor ceasefire violations in Syria reported ten violations, including five – in the province of Hama, two – in the province of Latakia, two – in the province of Damascus, and one – in the province of Aleppo.”
“Turkish officials reported 14 ceasefire violations, including seven – in the province of Damascus, four – in the province of Aleppo, two – in the province of Daraa, and one – in the province of Idlib.”
The good news is there’s “been a downward trend in the number of mutual violations and an upward trend in confidence among the warring side,” Russia’s center said.
Announced cessation of hostilities took effect at midnight, December 30 local time. Most US-supported terrorist groups agreed to honor it. Many others so far refused, so fighting continues.
On January 7, a bomb detonated near an Azaz, Syria courthouse (near Turkey’s border) killing dozens, wounding scores more, along with causing considerable damage.
Aleppo’s liberation last month was a major turning point in the war. Residents are returning. Rebuilding began.
On Saturday, a government plane successfully took off from the city’s international airport for the first time in over four years. The airport is expected to be reopened to the public next month.
On Friday, Russia’s naval battle group headed home after two months of operations against terrorists infesting Syria.
According to Russia’s Group of Forces in Syria commander General Andrei Kartapolov, “(over) the two months of their participation in combat operations, naval aviation pilots have carried out 420 sorties, including 117 in nighttime.”
“Actually all flights were performed in complex weather conditions. A total of 1,252 terrorist facilities have been destroyed.”
“The strikes were delivered against infrastructure facilities, the amassments of militants and military hardware, fire emplacements and strongholds of illegal armed formations.”
“The Black Sea Fleet’s frigate Admiral Grigorovich staying in the Mediterranean Sea delivered a missile strike on November 15, 2016 with Kalibr cruise missiles against facilities of the ISIL on the territory of Syria. All the targets were destroyed.”
Airstrikes on ground-based targets from warships aboard naval vessels were completed successfully for the first time in Russian naval history, proving its capability at sea is a force to be reckoned with.
According to Kartapolov, “(t)he Northern Fleet’s aircraft carrier naval group is ready for further operations.”
On Friday, Russian Armed Forces General Staff head Gen. Valery Gerasimov announced Moscow’s intention to scale back its military operations in Syria – beginning by withdrawing its Northern Fleet carrier group.
Its a risky move, tried earlier last year and failed, giving US-backed terrorists breathing room to regroup, rearm and mobilize for more attacks.
If Trump cooperates with Putin in combating terrorism, perhaps it can work this time. If not, we’re back to square one.