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Anniversary of the Two Year Long Russian Military Intervention in Syria; From the Edge of Total Defeat Syria Today Nears a Decisive Victory

October 04th - 2017

In September 2015, having faced over four years of war with Islamist insurgent forces, the Syrian military maintained control of just a small fraction of the country's territory. This was primarily a small enclave along the country's coast, including the capital Damascus, and smaller strongholds such as Deir Ez Zor. While Syria's army was among the most formidable in the Middle East, it was being worn down by an enemy whose numbers, funding and armaments were near unlimited - all of which were constantly replenished by both the steady flow of young men draw to 'jihad' from across the world and due to the near limitless resources of the insurgency's Western and Arab sponsors. The result was that Syria was on the bring of an irreversible defeat, one which would have consequences for the country's population for generations and lead to Islamist insurgent factions, most likely the Islamic State, coming to power. With the Syrian Arab army and their allies on the brink of defeat, the intervention of the Russian military on September 2015 proved decisive and turned the tide of the war.

In two years Syrian and Russian forces managed to recover 87.4 percent of the country's territory from insurgent groups. The balance of power was decisively shifted from near total defeat to what is two years later the cusp of victory. Russian special forces, ground troops and military advisers played a significant role, as did the Navy which launched numerous missile strikes, but the most iconic symbol of the intervention was the deployment of Russia's advanced Sukhoi combat aircraft. These included the Su-24, Su-25, Su-30, Su-34 and Su-35 - fighters which represented a new generation of the Russian military, the first which did not rely on Mikoyan designs to form the bulk of its capabilities. While the West had expected an archaic Soviet force similar to that deployed to Afghanistan in the 1980s - the modern high performance air units proved highly effective. In two years the small Russian Air Force contingent and Naval aircraft carried out 30,000 combat sorties and destroyed 96,000 targets. This was with a sortie rate few other air forces could match, facilitated largely by to the low maintenance requirements inherent to Russian fighter aircraft.

With the war drawing to a close, Deir Ez Zor liberated and the last Islamic State and Al Qaeda strongholds under siege, Syria is set to regain its territorial integrity after over six years of war. This has inevitably boded ill for the sponsors of the insurgency, and Russia has accused the United States of engaging in provocations against its forces in Syria as a result. Israel too, a neighbouring US ally hostile to the Syrian government, has called for greater US involvement to avert the insurgency's imminent defeat. Ultimately there is little the United States and its allies have been able to do to reverse Russia's turnaround in Syria, and the deployment of Russia's most advanced S-400 and S-300VM air defences to the country to prevent any potential external interference has ensured this. The result will likely be a new strategic balance in the Middle East which is less favourable to the Western powers, something already seen in several traditional U.S. allies' diplomatic overtures to Russia and requests from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt - all longstanding US military customers - to purchase Russian weapons after they proved their effectiveness in Syria.

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