LONDON, September 28. /TASS/. Russia’s military campaign launched in Syria almost a year ago signaled a turning point in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group (outlawed in Russia) and prevented Syria from turning into a terrorist springboard, British political scientist, editor-in-chief and publisher of the Politics First magazine Marcus Papadopoulos said in an interview with TASS.
Significance of Russia’s campaign
"The Russian military campaign has been pivotal. Prior to Russia entering the conflict, the Syrian military had been fighting heroically for four years on its own, on approximately 300 fronts, against Islamist terrorists comprised of around 80 nationalities from across the world. And those terrorists were supported, with arms and money, by the US, UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar," Papadopoulos said commenting on the upcoming anniversary of Russia’s participation in the Syrian conflict.
"The opposing forces were not evenly balanced. That said however, the Syrian army remained in control of most towns and cities, while most of the Syrian population were living in areas controlled by the Syrian army, firm evidence that the vast majority of the Syrian population supports its government and army," he said.
Russia prevents emergence of Islamist Syria
In the summer of 2015, it became clear that the Syrian army required help - immediate help, the expert said.
"The entry of Russia into the conflict in Syria has ensured that the Syrian army, and with it the Syrian Government, will not collapse, will not be defeated on the battlefield. As a result of the Russian air campaign, Russia's courageous actions have prevented a catastrophe from occurring, in which Islamists would seize Damascus. The Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the world in general owes Russia a very great debt for having prevented an Islamist Syria from taking shape and becoming a formidable springboard for carrying out terrorist attacks in the world."
International coalition’s role
"The West says it is fighting against terrorism in Syria but this is not so," Papadopoulos said.
"The Americans and British have been supporting the terrorists, including ISIS. Before ISIS reemerged in Iraq, while its forces were on the offensive in Syria, not one American or British politician publicly identified them as a threat and not one called for military action against them. In short, Washington and London were content to see ISIS kill as many Syrian soldiers as possible," the British political scientist said.
Outcome of anti-terrorism struggle
The actions of the Western coalition in Syria have not led to any results in the fight against terrorists, Papadopoulos said.
"When the Americans began their 'air campaign' against ISIS, it was so ineffectual that ISIS actually advanced further in Syria, capturing a lot of territory. The Americans and British are not part of the solution - they are part of the problem."
"The Syrian and Russian militaries, together with the Iranian military and Hezbollah, are rolling back the terrorists in Syria and will, at some point, liberate all Syrian territory under the control of the terrorists. But as the Syrians and Russians fight on the frontline against Islamist terrorism, the Americans and British continue with their support to the terrorists. Washington and London are endangering not just the Middle East but the entire world as a result of their selfish and dangerous policy on Syria," he said.
Russia’s military campaign in Syria
Russia’s Aerospace Forces started pinpointing strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra (terrorist organizations banned in Russia) on September 30, 2015, at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Russia’s aviation helped the Syrian troops to liberate about 400 settlements and inflict serious damage to the illegal oil trade which is the main source of income for terrorists. All major supply routes for weapons and ammunition were blocked.
In mid-March 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered to start withdrawing the main part of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ group from Syria. Putin said the tasks set before the military had been "fulfilled on the whole." Two Russian military facilities - at the Hmeymim aerodrome and in Tartus - are still in operation in Syria. The Russian military continues taking an active part in fighting against terrorist groups.