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US air strikes on ISIS may target Assad forces — expert

September 11, 2014, 16:19 UTC+3 MOSCOW

"And then, as Obama pictures, there will be a gas pipeline running via Syria to Turkey and then to Europe," he says

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MOSCOW, September 11. /ITAR-TASS/. Air strikes on Syria announced by the United States may be targeting not Islamic State but Syrian government troops, president of the Russian Institute for Middle East Studies Yevgeny Satanovsky told Tass on Thursday.

“Why should Obama destroy Islamic State? He will be fighting it selectively, so that it is not erased from the map completely,” he said, referring to the radical Islamist group that has seized parts of territory in eastern Syria and across northern and western Iraq.

“It is impossible to win over them just with the use of air forces - a ground operation is needed,” the expert said. “And in the event Islamic State is destroyed, the US will get two problems. Firstly, Kurds who don’t ask it for help and calmly co-operate with Turkey where Tayyip Erdogan, who does not like the American president, is in power. Secondly, Shiites, who do not need Obama at all, as Iran is their main partner,” the analyst said.

“Accordingly, Obama should leave Islamists to ‘heat up’ the situation, to have everybody ask him to do something about them,” said Satanovsky.

“Striking on [Syrian president] Assad to open the road to Damascus for Jabhat al-Nusra (a Syrian al-Qaida-affiliated group) - yes, this may be possible,” he continued. “A heavy battle is under way between Saudi and Qatar terrorists. The Islamic State is destroying rivals in the person of Jabhat al-Nusra.”

Islamic State is supported by Qatar, while Jabhat al-Nusra by Saudi Arabia, the expert noted. “A secular Syrian opposition has disintegrated, and its fighting-fit brigades have gone to terrorists, some to Islamic State, others to Jabhat al-Nusra. The secular opposition has no other mission-capable brigades,” he said. Aid which the US intended for the opposition would as a result reach terrorists’ hands, Satanovsky said.

“I am afraid the US may deliver simultaneous strikes on positions of Assad, on air fields and military bases," Satanovsky added. "And then, as Obama pictures, there will be a gas pipeline running via Syria to Turkey and then to Europe. So, the latest dream of the US president about pushing Russia from European markets will gain ground."

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