On Wednesday, we brought you an in-depth look at the latest from Syria where Russia is apparently in a mad dash to send reinforcements to Assad and his depleted army at Latakia (or at least that’s the narrative being pushed rather hard by Western media).
Meanwhile, France and Britain have apparently decided that the best way to stem the flow of refugees to Western Europe is to bomb the country from which the refugees are fleeing, which means that in relatively short order, the skies above Syria will be filled with French, British, American, Turkish, and Russian jets, a situation which quite clearly has the potential to cause an “accident.”
With the war drums now beating loudly, the media is keen on documenting anything that even sounds like it might be incremental which, in combination with the fact that situation on the ground truly is rather fluid, means we get more color on the situation with each passing hour. Case in point, from Reuters:
Russian forces have begun participating in military operations in Syria in support of government troops, three Lebanese sources familiar with the political and military situation there said on Wednesday.
The sources, speaking to Reuters on condition they not be identified, gave the most forthright account yet from the region of what the United States fears is a deepening Russian military role in Syria's civil war, though one of the Lebanese sources said the number of Russians involved so far was small.
And here's more from the Kremlin, where spokeswoman Maria Zakharova offered a damning (not to mention amusingly accurate) indictment of how Washington has sought to characterize Moscow's relationship with Damascus:
Russia has decried the U.S. pressure over the flights as "international boorishness" and dismissed reports of a build-up in Syria in general terms.
But Russian officials have repeatedly dodged questions over whether there has been a recent increase in military assistance to Assad and Moscow has not unequivocally denied any build-up of its forces in Syria.
"First we were accused of providing arms to the so-called 'bloody regime that was persecuting democratic activists'," said Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry.
"Now it's a new edition - we are supposedly harming the fight against terrorism. That is complete rubbish."
All of that comes on the heels of reports out on Wednesday which suggested that Moscow had sent tank landing ships and additional cargo planes to the country prompting Washington to remind the Kremlin that any efforts to prop up the Assad regime are absolutely unacceptable:
"We would welcome constructive Russian contributions to the counter-ISIL effort, but we've been clear that it would be unconscionable for any party, including the Russians, to provide any support to the Assad regime," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
Reuters’ unnamed Lebanese sources also suggested that Russia has moved to establish an inland forward operating base, a move they say “indicates the Russians have decided to join the war against terrorism", a war which, as discussed here on Wednesday, no foreign military seems very interested in fighting as evidenced by the fact that rebels battling Islamic State near Marea told WSJ they are “fighting ISIS by themselves.”
And speaking of ISIS, the group is apparently close to taking one of Assad's last strongholds in the east (via Reuters):
Dozens of Syrian government troops and Islamic State fighters have been killed in fighting around a government-held air base in eastern Syria in a region that is a stronghold for the jihadists, a monitoring group said on Thursday,
Islamic State used at least two car bombs in its latest assault on the air base near the city of Deir al-Zor, where government troops are holed up, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
It said at least 18 soldiers and 23 Islamic State fighters had been killed. The base is one of President Bashar al-Assad's last footholds in eastern Syria. There was no mention of the attack on state media.
So while all of the multifarious rebels, “freedom fighters”, “moderate” jihadists, “radical” jihadists, and makeshift contingents do exactly what they were intended to do from the start (i.e. destabilize the Assad regime) both the West and Russia are busy preparing for the possibility that realizing their respective visions for Syria’s political future may ultimately mean open warfare and make no mistake, warhawks in Washington are happy to perpetuate the narrative as is the GOP's media mouthpiece. Here's Fox News:
U.S. officials are expressing growing concern about Russia's military build-up in Assad-controlled Syria, calling it "unprecedented."
"It's beginning to look like Crimyria [sic]," the official told Fox News.
Yes, it's starting to look like "Crimyria" and by that we assume Fox means "Crimea", and if they're right, the Kremlin may be on the verge of taking the "proxy" out of the Syrian proxy war.