Russia’s Anti-ISIL Missile Strikes in Syria Warning to US

TEHRAN (FNA)- Analysts believe that the operations to annihilate the ISIL using advanced Russian missiles is aimed at displaying Moscow’s power and warning the US-led coalition after the recent downing of a Syrian fighter jet.

While some people think that Russia’s Kalibr missile strikes against ISIL on Friday was an excessive measure – as such missiles are used for high precision-striking operations and they can hit targets 2,600km away – a number of analysts believe that Russia’s display of its military power can be fruitful as the US-led coalition is making some increasing hostile action and maneuvering, causing concern in Moscow and Tehran, two of Damascus’s allies.

Director of the Defense and Intelligence Projects at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs Brigadier General Kevin Ryan (US Army retired) said that the Russian defense ministry’s warning was not only a direct threat but also completely real.

“Russian has warned that any aircraft or little flying object is a military target from now on and will be escorted by the Russian fighter jets. Now the US air force is forced to review its operations because they cannot act freely and in such conditions any aircraft can be shot down,” he added.

Ryan said that the Americans and their allies are mostly concerned about increased authority of the Russian military forces at lower levels in Syria; meaning that now the Russian military commanders in Syria decide to down an aircraft or not and this decision will not be taken in Moscow.

Analysts believe that any possible military conflicts between the US and Russia will merely benefit the ISIL and therefore, the two countries avoid it as long as possible. The only difference is that Russia is in Syria at the demand of the legal government unlike the US. Therefore, the Russian side considers itself as entitled to use modern and state-of-the-art military equipment to defend its military men and the Syrian government forces and territorial integrity.

Two Russian Navy frigates and a submarine fired six Kalibr cruise missiles on ISIL’s targets in Syria on Friday.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced that the missiles were launched from Russian Navy frigates, the Admiral Essen and the Admiral Grigorovich, as well as a submarine, the Krasnodar, from the Eastern Mediterranean. The strikes targeted ISIL command and control centers, as well as ammunition depots in the Syrian province of Hama.

It came after a Syrian fighter jet engaged in operations against the ISIL in Raqqa was downed by the US-led coalition warplane last Sunday.

Later, Russian Defense Ministry said Moscow is halting all interactions with Washington within the framework on the memorandum of incident prevention in Syrian skies.
The Defense Ministry added that Russian missile defense will intercept any aircraft in the area of operations of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria.

Washington and Moscow signed the bilateral memorandum of understanding in October 2015 to ensure the safety of flights during combat missions over Syria.

It is not the first time that the US-led intervention in Syria has led to standoffs and violence against pro-government forces.

As Washington claims that it fights against the ISIL group, US warships fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from two warships in the Mediterranean Sea at the Shayrat airfield in Homs province on April 7, following a chemical weapons incident in Idlib province which the Western countries blamed on the Damascus government.

The Syrian government has fiercely denied using or even possessing chemical weapons since the country’s compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention was certified by international observers in 2013, as the world is still waiting for the US and its allies to provide any proof for its claims of Bashar al-Assad government involvement in the alleged chemical attack.

Also on May 18, the US-led coalition struck pro-Bashar Assad forces near al-Tanf in the area of an established de-confliction zone. The coalition air raids occurred near al-Tanf, where US’ and British special operations forces have been training militants near the border with Iraq and Jordan.

On June 6, the Pentagon announced the coalition conducted a new strike on pro-Syrian government forces as they entered the de-confliction zone with Russia and posed threat to its personnel. The force comprised of a tank, artillery, anti-aircraft weapons, armed technical vehicles and more than 60 soldiers. At least two Syrian servicemen were killed and more than 15 injured as a result of the attack.

On June 8, the US-led coalition bombed pro-Damascus forces near al-Tanf in the area of a de-confliction zone following an alleged attack by a combat drone resulting in no coalition forces’ casualties. This was the third attack by the coalition on Damascus’ allies in the area. The coalition targeted a drone and trucks with weapons.

Furthermore, on September 16, US-led coalition aircraft carried out four strikes against the Syrian Army near the Deir Ezzur airport, killing nearly 100 people.