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Russia’s role in military operation against IS to be effective - analysts

October 01, 2015, 20:43 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© Russian Defense Ministry's Press and Information Department/TASS

MOSCOW, October 1. /TASS/. Russia’s role in the military operation against the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria will certainly prove far more effective than the United States and its allies have been to this day, polled Russian military experts told TASS. First and foremost, because Russia’s air and space forces are focused on IS terrorists and have been acting in tight coordination with Syrian government troops and their allies.

Russia’s warplanes dealt the first strikes against Islamic State positions in Syria on Wednesday. President Vladimir Putin said the sole correct way towards victory against the terrorists was to take pre-emptive measures, and not "watch and wait for the terrorists to emerge on our doorstep." He promised, though, that the Russian armed forces would not be plunged into the conflict in Syria neck-deep. The operation would be temporary, he added.

The Russian Defense Ministry has said there have been about 28 sorties. The attacks wiped out the IS militants’ munitions and weapons depots, storages of fuels and lubricants, military equipment, and command centers.

"Strikes by Russia’s air and space forces have already demonstrated far greater effectiveness than those by the US-led coalition," military expert and editor-in-chief of the Arsenal Otechestva (Arsenal of the Fatherland) magazine, Viktor Murakhovsky, told TASS. "The coalition has delivered about 7,000 strikes — against IS positions, it claimed — but they have not brought about any shrinkage in the area under the terrorists’ control or decline in their combat operations."

The effectiveness of the US-led coalition has been very low, because its participants have not cooperated either with Syria’s government troops or Kurdish militias, or Iranian commandoes operating in the territory of Iraq and Syria, Murakhovsky said. "They were setting tasks and targets to be bombed on their own. Also, there were considerable disagreements, including those with Iraqi military structures. The coalition was acting on its own and, as experience has shown, it was not successful at all."

"In the meantime, Russia maintains cooperation with government troops in Syria. It has pointed out that the Russian air group’s main task is to furnish support for the Syrian offensive against the Islamic State," Murakhovsky said.

At the moment Russian warplanes provide support for the counter-offensive with the aim to restore the Syrian troops to their positions along the Damascus-Hama-Homs line stretching further on towards the Turkish border. "Russian aviation is dealing pin-point strikes against IS command centres, warehouses, and communication lines and thereby contributing to the success of the operation."

It would be wrong to say that Syria’s government troops and militias and Syria’s Kurds are capable of a brief strategic operation that would oust the IS from Syria’s territory in three to four weeks' time, Murakhovsky said. "A much longer period is the point at issue, but not years, of course. The offensive operation will last several months, I reckon, and Russia’s air and space force will be supporting it all the way," he believes.

About the Russian military hardware involved in the operation Murakhovsky said that there was an optimal combination of pieces of military equipment well-tested in action before and some absolutely new ones, being used in combat operations for the first time.

"There are some new planes, for instance, frontline bombers Sukhoi-34 and fighters Sukhoi-30SM. Alongside these the group incorporates planes designed back in the Soviet era — fighter-bomber Sukhoi-25 and frontline bomber Sukhoi-24 and helicopters Mi-8 and Mi-35."

Already the first strikes by Russia’s air and space forces look more effective than operations by the US-led coalition, agrees the president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov. "The United States declared the establishment of a coalition only to pretend it was fighting the Islamic State," he told TASS. "The Islamic State in the first place is a handy tool of the United States and the Persian Gulf states, and they are in no hurry to do away with it, because it has not yet coped with its task of ruining Syria and overthrowing Bashar Assad. This explains why they were simulating the struggle against the Islamic State. While creating the illusion it was fighting against the IS, the United States and its coalition allies were attacking mostly Syrian forces. The ratio looked like this: about 100 strikes against Syrian troops and about 5-6 against the Islamic State."

"What the Russian attack aircraft have been doing is very effective, well-planned and coordinated with operations by Syrian government troops and Iranian commandoes," Ivashov said. "There will certainly be a success here. As a career military I can say that the first strike that was dealt yesterday indicated that fundamental components of a large terrorist movement — control and communication systems and logistic and support facilities, as well as large concentrations of materiel and manpower are the prime targets."

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