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On Wednesday morning, the Federation Council upper house of parliament granted permission to the Russian president to use the country’s troops in Syria. Kremlin chief of staff Sergey Ivanov said that Russia will use only its Air Force in Syria and it does this on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s request.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Russian Air Force began to conduct air raids against the Islamist rebels of Jabhat Al-Nusra inside the Latakia and Hama Governorates in the western part of Syria. These provinces would reportedly be the primary target for the Russian Air Force and the Syrian Arab Army. According to scrappy reports, the Russian Air Force targeted that areas of Al-Lataminah, Kafr Zita, the Jabal Al-Zaweed, Kassab, and Deir Hanna. At the moment airstrikes are aimed on the Syrian brench of Al-Qaeda. However, it’s clear that the ISIS positions inside eastern Syria will be targeted in the nearest future.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Arab Army’s Special Forces division known as the “Tiger Forces” have deployed their units to the east Aleppo front to help lift the ISIS’s siege of the Kuweires Military Airport. Lifting the siege from the airport will open additional opportunities of the Syrian Air Force’s usage in the conflict and free forces and facilities which could be used to relieve the situation in the sector.
It’s very possible that Russia will use Iraq’s vast airspace in the nearest future. Iraq is imperative to Russia’s fight against ISIS due to its geographical location. In other cases, Russia’s airstrikes in eastern Syria would be limited because of terrorists’ ability to use Iraq’s wide-open highways.
Earlier, SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence reported that Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria have made an agreement to set in Bagdad a joint information center to coordinate their operations against ISIS.
The positioning of Russian aircraft in Syria gives the Kremlin an ability to shape and control the battlespace in both Syria and Iraq out of all proportion to the size of the Russian force. It could impact the U.S. to accept a combined coalition with Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Lebanese Hezbollah in support of operations against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.
Separately, the contemporary situation can probably lead to the establishment of a permanent Russian air and naval base in the Eastern Mediterranean.