ALEPPO, Syria — Throughout the second week of March, Russian warplanes intensified airstrikes concentrating on the Islamic State (IS) in japanese Syria.
There are a number of objectives behind the Russian airstrikes. Chief amongst them is securing the roads within the Badia area (the Syrian desert), limiting IS operations and army capabilities and curbing the spread of the group within the Badia, which extends over Raqqa, Hama, Homs, Deir Ez-Zor and Aleppo provinces.
The Syrian regime forces and their allied militias have failed to attain their objectives throughout their floor operations towards IS in current months.
To be able to intensify air operations towards IS within the desert, the Russian forces have beefed up their presence in two air bases belonging to the Syrian regime within the Badia within the japanese countryside of Homs so as to make use of these bases as a launching pad for the plane placing IS positions and websites within the space.
A journalist and activist within the japanese countryside of Hama instructed Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity, “The bottom army operations waged by the regime forces towards IS within the Syrian Badia have did not weaken the group, as its militants are nonetheless roaming the area whereas attacking roads and launching nearly day by day assaults towards the regime’s websites and oil and phosphate fields.”
“This IS exercise reveals that the group remains to be sustaining a big a part of its army and human capabilities, and it’s following developed offensive techniques to deplete its opponents and decrease its losses,” he added.
The extreme Russian air marketing campaign towards IS marks the start of a brand new section of confrontations within the Badia. There are questions as to whether or not this marketing campaign will assist the bottom forces combating IS and whether or not it could actually restrict IS motion and operations all of the whereas weakening IS army and human capabilities. Questions additionally come up about Russia’s profit from this air marketing campaign.
Mustafa Bakour, a defected Syrian army officer and army analyst who lives in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, instructed Al-Monitor, “IS members have gained nice expertise relating to hiding and transferring within the Badia, which has a rugged nature filled with hills and pure hideouts, and that is what made it straightforward for them to hold out operations towards the regime and its allies, throughout which lots of have been killed. The extreme Russian air marketing campaign towards IS primarily goals at minimizing the human losses suffered by the regime and the militias supporting it.”
“Because of the state of attrition that these forces are experiencing, Russia has resorted to its air drive within the hopes of [supporting] the drained floor forces. The plane possesses an enormous harmful energy, but it surely can not management the land. Floor forces are subsequently indispensable to impose management on the bottom following airstrikes. That is what Russia efficiently did through the regime’s conflict towards the Free Syrian Military in Idlib. Nonetheless, I don’t assume that this may work out within the Badia, which extends over a big space and the place IS has a number of hideouts. The group additionally adopts a guerrilla tactic and depends on attacking its targets and subsequently withdrawing and hiding,” Bakour mentioned.
Abbas Sharifeh, a researcher on the Jusoor Center for Studies primarily based in Istanbul, instructed Al-Monitor, “The bottom army marketing campaign that the regime forces launched with the help of Russian forces towards IS cells within the Badia has failed for a lot of causes. IS’ technique is predicated on fast raiding, ambushing and destabilizing [the enemy] to keep away from turning into a straightforward prey. I don’t assume that the Russian air drive alone is able to eliminating the group. It could, nonetheless, briefly weaken it and restrict its operations, however these may resume as soon as airstrikes are halted.”
Airstrikes are a pricey army motion. International locations resort to them both in circumstances of maximum necessity or when there are potential positive aspects justifying them. And since many of the Russian raids have lately targeted on a large space of the Badia, the query arises as to what Russia is relying on and whether or not there are actual positive aspects to cowl the prices of those raids.
An impartial political financial system researcher, Yahya al-Sayed Omar, instructed Al-Monitor, “There are various causes that make Syria’s Badia crucial economically. It’s situated in the midst of Syria, and it contains the roads linking the east and the west of the nation. Additionally, the regime is in search of to activate the commerce line with Iraq, therefore the necessity to absolutely safe this highway.”
Al-Watan paper, which is near the regime, reported in a March 7 report on the amount of commerce between Syrian and Lebanon and between Syria and Iraq through the Abu Kamal border crossing. The director of the Abu Kamal crossing, Assem Iskandar, instructed Al-Watan that round 25 vans carrying native items cross into Iraq on common day by day.
In response to sources quoted by the paper in January, the whole revenues of the Abu Kamal crossing in 2020 reached about 800 million Syrian kilos (about $276,000).
Omar mentioned, “Russia has seized a number of very important amenities in Syria, a few of that are situated within the Badia, such because the Shaer oil area, the Hayyan gasoline plant and the Khunayfis mining space, and any IS assault on these amenities will disrupt operations and trigger Russia to lose its investments.”
He mentioned, “Russia is attempting to take management of the Syrian oil sector. These within the know on the places of the Syrian oil fields know full properly that some necessary fields are situated within the areas the place Russia is launching airstrikes. The Wadi al-Ubaid area, situated between the provinces of Deir Ez-Zor and Raqqa, is likely one of the necessary fields and the presence of IS in its environment makes it very dangerous to speculate on this area. Russian raids additionally focused Jabal al-Bishri in western Deir ez-Zor, understanding that this mountain is the principle stronghold of IS remnants hiding within the many caves it incorporates. Jabal al-Bishri is wealthy in pure sources, because it has sand and marble quarries, asphalt and salt mines, and it’s also believed to include shale oil mines.”