MENASource Podcast: Russia’s Intervention in Syria

For the past three and a half weeks, the Russian Air Force and a handful of military advisers have been striking rebel held positions in Syria. The bulk of the airstrikes are concentrated along the M5 highway near the cities of Homs and Hama. To blunt the Russian offensive, various rebel groups have used TOW anti-tank missiles to destroy Syrian tanks and slow down the joint Russian/Syrian/Iranian offensive. However, in Aleppo, the joint Russian and Syrian campaign has had more success. Regime force and the Islamic State have been able to take back territory lost to the rebels in recent days. In a recent interview, Russia’s Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Colonel General Andrey Kartapolov, has described the military campaign as an open-ended affair, and not simply a short term military operation.

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In the first installment of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center Podcast, Nonresident Fellow Aaron Stein and Resident Fellow Faysal Itani discuss the Russian and Syrian strategy, the reasons for the focus on Homs, Hamma, and Aleppo, the success of the TOW missile program, and the risks of the US preferred plan of working most closely with the Syrian Kurds.  The show touches on the longer term implications of the Russian and US approaches to the conflict, the potential challenges posed by the involvement of the Nusra Front in the anti-Assad insurgency, and the possibility of a political settlement.

Related Experts: Aaron Stein and Faysal Itani