by Gordon M. Hahn
Updating yesterday’s missive “Russia’s Military Intervention in Syria” exposing the Western governments’ and media false spin on Russia’s air strikes in Syria. As I noted, the reports emphasized Russian strikes were not hitting Islamic State (IS or ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) targets in order to give the impression that Putin had lied when he described his plans to fight jihadism. I also showed that Russian strikes likely were targeting other jihadi targets. The general public would not necessarily know that there are other jihadi groups in Syria besides IS; hence, the spin’s focus on IS.
The second day of Russian air strikes, which are being ignored in Western government statements and media, show that among the new targets were both IS and other jihadi installations and forces. Russian air strikes hit IS targets in Deir Ezzour and Raqqa provinces, including a Syrian Air Force base which fell to IS earlier this year. Raqqa city, it should be noted, is IS’s capitol in Syria.
Russian targets also included areas around Jabal al-Zawiya and Jisr al-Shughour, which are under the control of Jaish al-Fatah (JF, the Army of Conquest), which includes several Al Qa`ida-allied jihadi groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra (JN), Ahrar al-Sham (AS), Jeish al-Islam (JI) and other jihadi groups. Many of these groups include fighters from Russia’s North Caucasus, Tatarstan, and the former USSR. An interactive map detailing Russian air strikes in Syria can be found here (https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=z4PF1SFiMPjQ.kFa_qMMdFl48).
Yesterday, the Obama Administration said the failure to discriminate between IS and other rebel groups was a “grave miscalculation.” Really?! Ironically, when the KTJ announced took allegiance or bayat to JN on September 29, it noted that JN “operates as al Qaeda’s wing in Syria” and that it is crucial to unite against the “Safavid [Iranian]-American-Russian alliance against Muslims.”
An Uzbek group, Katibat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (KTJ or the Battalion of Monotheism and Jihad), which joined JN and declared its allegiance to Al Qa`ida yesterday also undertook an attack on Syrian and Russian forces at the Hamim Air Base near Latakia. KTJ claimed to have inflicted unspecified losses on both Syrian and Russian forces (www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/09/al-qaeda-brigade-claims-attack-on-russian-forces.php).
Gordon M. Hahn is an Analyst and Advisory Board Member of the Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, Illinois; Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California Analyst/Consultant, Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch; and Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor, MonTREP, Monterey, California. Dr Hahn is author of three well-received books, Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), which was named an outstanding title of 2007 by Choice magazine, and The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014). He also has authored hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and other publications on Russian, Eurasian and international politics and wrote, edited and published the Islam, Islamism, and Politics in Eurasia Report at CSIS from 2010-2013. Dr. Hahn has been a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (2011-2013) and a Visiting Scholar at both the Hoover Institution and the Kennan Institute.