Russia’s War Plan in Syria

“…The obvious immediate operational goals of the offensive include defeat and dispersal of the armed opposition groups in the northern and northeastern parts of Syria, as well as extermination of the opposition-controlled enclaves in the central part of regime-controlled zone between Homs and Hama – four in five Russian air strikes are concentrated in precisely those two areas. Re-establishing Damascus’s control over the territory currently controlled by Kurds is not the part of the plan as there is no Russian activity in that zone. Securing the eastern border of regime-controlled territory is also a task: the approximately 20 per cent of air strikes devoted to targets in the narrow sector around Palmyra – the only area where Daesh forces immediately contact with regime troops – indicate this. Taking into account the narrow area of contact between Daesh and regime forces, one can conclude that fighting the jihadist group is only a secondary task of the Syrian–Russian–Iranian coalition. Other nationalist and Islamist armed opposition seem to be the major targets of Russian strikes; Daesh forces serve as a secondary target, and a way to legitimate Russia’s actions.”