Russia can help defeat the IS
Updated: 2015-10-08 07:38
A frame grab taken from footage released by Russia's Defence Ministry October 5, 2015, shows smoke rising after airstrikes carried out by the country's air force in Syria.[Photo/Agencies]
Russia has been carrying out airstrikes against terrorist targets in Syria since Sept 30. Its direct military involvement in the country could be a game-changer for efforts to combat the Islamic State terrorist group.
The necessity to fight the IS group and the request for assistance from Syrian President Bashar Assad have given Russia's actions legitimacy and won it approval from the international community. And the initial results from Russia's airstrikes are impressive: Russian aircraft have performed over 80 missions destroying around 50 terrorist facilities.
Russia's involvement is a direct response to the ineffectiveness of the US-led international coalition which has been bombing IS targets in Syria and Iraq for more than a year.
Yet, due to the distrust between Russia and the West, and Russia's close ties with the Assad government, Moscow's decision to intervene in Syria has been met with widespread skepticism and criticism from the West. The day after Russia's military operations began, the White House called the Russian air strikes in Syria "indiscriminate" and said they risk prolonging the sectarian conflict in the country.
On Monday, NATO called on Russia to immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians, and to focus its efforts on fighting the IS group.
Unless Moscow can convince the US-led West that it is helping fight the IS group rather than helping Assad combat the rebel Syrian forces, distrust between the two sides will only deepen.
Whether Russia and the US-led international coalition can better coordinate their moves and cooperate against the IS group is also a question that needs to be answered.
With Moscow and Washington showing growing interests this week to coordinate their moves in Syria, it is hoped the fall of the IS will come sooner rather than later.