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MOSCOW, June 1. /TASS/. Positions of Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat an-Nusra have strengthened against the background of US air strikes on Islamic State, the director of the Russian Institute of Oriental Studies said on Monday.
"It is impossible to win a victory over Islamic State by separate air strikes [from the US]," Vitaly Naumkin said. "However, they have achieved something in these limited strikes," he said, noting that "according to experts, contraband of oil from Syria and accordingly revenues have dropped about threefold as a result of the strikes".
"Positions of certain groups are strengthening against the background of strikes on IS. For example, it is absolutely obvious that Jabhat an-Nusra has taken advantage of the situation in Syria," the director of the institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences said.
This group "is also seizing new territories today, it has become much stronger," he added. "Americans don’t touch it, this is difficult to be done with limited resources," he said, noting that "Jabhat an-Nusra was prospering in this situation.
The expert said Jabhat an-Nusra and Islamic State were rivals. "Will they merge or will their confrontation grow into a war - this is a big question," he noted.
He said some radical groups were announcing their joining of the Islamic State, but formally no unification happened. "It can be expected that under the worst scenario, if IS spills far beyond the borders of this territory that it now controls in Iraq and Syria, an organizational unification that envisages control from one center may take place," he said.