Russia is under hot water after a human rights organization accused the country of conducting “revenge massacres” across Syria. Furthermore, the movement of American and Turkish troops is expected to cause further tensions with Russia but not without Moscow adding to the flame by moving its troops in Syria.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the death toll from Russian and Syrian air strikes against the ISIS is already at 164 for the last 72 hours. Furthermore, the death toll included 43 children and 25 women. The SOHR called the attacks as “revenge massacres” as air strikes were conducted by the countryside in areas such as de facto capital of IS’s self-proclaimed caliphate, Raqqa and Deir al-Zor.
The SOHR added that 63 people along with nine children were among the fatalities in the attack in Khesham, according to Vice. Additionally, there were also 55 people, with 18 children and nine women, killed in al-Bolel, al-Kharita. Russia’s intervention in the region started in September but reports surfaced saying that the additional military power has been turning the odds over to the Assad regime. However, this also comes at the cost of civilians.
Amnesty International reported last December that Russia airstrikes killed scores of civilians with the toll reaching hundreds – making it a war crime. “The Russian armed forces appear to have directly attacked civilians or civilian objects by striking residential areas with no evident military objective and even medical facilities, resulting in deaths and injuries to civilians,” claimed the organization in the report.
Along with the conflict in Syria, some tensions exist between countries involved in the fight against ISIS. According to Center for Research on Globalization, Syrian Local Coordination Committees claim that US has been trying to expand Rmeilan airport for quite some time. This is part of the country’s efforts to initiate military invasion in Syrian territory. Consequently, Turkey has also been working on bringing military units by the Syrian border. Around 1000 Turkish troops have reportedly crossed the Aleppo province along with heavy equipment, military vehicles and mine detection gear.
“Turkey has already begun to ramp up its artillery strikes along its border with Syria to help its rebel allies and to destroy Islamic State targets. This could indicate an effort to soften enemy defenses ahead of a Turkish ground incursion once mine sweeping operations have been completed,” explained Statfor in its analysis.
However, this may register differently for Russia. “Unfortunately, in recent days, it’s especially noticeable that ahead of the planned start of the inter-Syrian negotiations in Geneva the activities of terrorist groups have intensified. Obviously, they’re trying to turn the tide in their favor on the battlefield,” Center for Research on Globalization quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova during a briefing.
“It cannot be ruled out that… fortifications [built by Turkey] along the Syrian-Turkish border may be used by militant groups as strongholds.” She added.
Ankara has the same sentiments over Russia’s mobilization of troops along the Syrian border. Russian forces are coming closer to Turkish border with reports saying that Moscow intends to set up an airbase in the region. This risks having Russia and Turkey as neighbors midst the tensions.
“We have said this from the beginning: we won’t tolerate such formations (in northern Syria) along the area stretching from the Iraqi border up to the Mediterranean,” said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
Morning News USA has been consistent in its coverage of the war happening in Syria that political analysts believed to already be a proxy World War 3. The situation in Syria is complicated and ripe with tensions among the participating countries. The U.S. and Russia relations had been worse since the Ukraine crisis erupted not to mention that they are old time foes since the Cold War era.
The two nations had been avoiding direct confrontation but the minute Russia joined the fight against ISIS in support of president Bashar al-Assad, miscalculations are imminent. With Russia pulverizing all terrorist organizations fighting Mr. Assad – including Pentagon-trained Syria oppositions – the situation in Syria is tantamount in saying that Russia and U.S. are the ones pitted against each other in the region. The Pentagon had been training Syrian oppositions that constitute the New Syrian Forces fighting the Assad regime. And if Russia is targeting groups fighting against President al-Assad, then the situation is tantamount to Russia and U.S. conducting strikes against each other. U.S. has the responsibility to protect the U.S.-backed Syrian opposition. Russia is vocal of its support to President al-Assad. To make matter worse, Turkey, a strong US and NATO ally, downed a Russian bomber in November. Turkey has also been conducting airstrikes against the ISIS in support of the US-led coalition.