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Russia warships, submarine strike IS targets in Syria

25 Juin 2017

The missiles come amid tensions following Sunday's rare air-to-air encounter between a Syrian Su-22 fighter and two US Navy Super Hornets in the skies over Syria, the first time a US warplane has downed a manned aircraft since 1999.

The remaining targets were destroyed in subsequent aerial strikes.

In effect, the Assad regime, Iran, and even Russia are forcing the United States to do that which the Obama administration steadfastly rejected and the Trump administration may be debating: a national security objective and accompanying strategy addressing all of Syria; one recognizing that the regime, Iran, Russia, and ISIS are all part of the same problem set, wrecking the Syrian state and threatening Western interests.

This is all adding to a growing sense of concern that the war against ISIS in southern Syria might inevitably escalate to see the United States fighting the Syrian regime as well as Iranian-backed forces. For example, last week regime forces managed to preempt USA -backed fighters' expansion north of al-Tanf simply by taking the ISIS territory itself first. It is a race that America and its allies may lose. This is the first time Iran has targeted the terrorists in Syria from its own territory.

With a strategy many have seen as contradictory, or lacking a clear objective at best, the USA has been engaged in a complex war fighting opposing interests in Iraq and Syria. For the following reason: If the USA and its allies are eclipsed in eastern Syria, the result will be the establishment of a contiguous land link from Iran, across Iraq and Syria and to Lebanon and the Israeli border.

Gaining a land bridge will allow Iran to increase its already substantial shipments of arms to its Lebanese ally, Hizbullah, a militia and political party.

Pro-regime forces managed to cross the administrative border of Deir Ezzor after controlling the areas of al-Waer, al-Washash and several other areas that were within the control areas of ISIS eastern Syria. The Syrian crisis continues on and it may lead only to one eventuality, another world war.

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In other words, what is being prepared-behind the backs of the American people and without any debate, much less a shred of legality-is another full-scale Middle East war directed not just at Syrian regime change, but at confronting Iran and nuclear-armed Russian Federation. It also may stymie an attempt by American-backed Syrian rebels to push into Deir Ezzor from the south. As US-Iranian relations once again deteriorate, so further provocations can not be discounted.

Hezbollah's Iranian and Syrian weaponry are freely given, the IDF chief said, but its Russian equipment is "taken without permission, under [the Russians'] noses".

He also hailed the strike as a testimony to continued military coordination among Iran, Syria, and other members of the axis of resistance in the fight against terrorism.

Yet there is also little Washington can do to push back Iran or the regime without inflaming the conflict and hindering the fight against IS. Whether that is a sound calculation depends on the United States' ultimate goals in eastern Syria and the importance it places on them in the face of the likely array of Iranian threats. Iranian firms have won fat contracts in telecoms, mining, agriculture, oil and gas.

Ibrahim Kalin said the de-escalation zones, agreed by Turkey, Russia and Iran, would be further discussed during talks in the Kazakh capital Astana in early July, Haberturk television channel said. That may partly be to avert yet another possible cross-border conflict. It has reinforced this unofficial red line with air strikes on Syrian and Iranian-backed forces in the area.

A third of the group's fighting force is now entrenched in Syria, where Hezbollah has suffered some 8,000 casualties and is struggling to provide for their treatment and rehab due to budgetary issues, Eisenkot said.