Originally published in LastPoint.gr on July 3, 2017
With the substantial formation of “cantons” on Syrian territory, especially after the weak cease-fire agreement in Astana between Russia, Turkey and Iran, the things between these countries have been complicated by the control of the territories owned by ISIS . Although Russia has the upper hand in the western part of Syria and seeks to increase its influence to the east of the country and while the US has full control over the areas under the Kurdish militias in the northeast of Syria, much of the south of the country under the forces of the Syrian opposition belonging to the MOC (Military Operations Center), almost 40% of the country’s territory is actually under the influence of ISIS. There are also regional powers that want to increase their influence, such as Turkey in the northwest of the country and Iran trying to create a land route linking it to the Mediterranean Sea. With all these international actors and regional forces, is there a single future for Syria a dream or is there still some hope?
In recent days there has been a state of tension between Washington and the supporters of Western countries on the one hand and Russia on the other. Russia was forced to enter the depths of the desert to occupy territories that controlled ISIS, which cost it in time and power, while at the same time it seemed to fall one after the other in the hands of the US-backed Kurdish regions of the north . This is a major defeat to the Russian plan to limit US influence in the northeastern part of Syria and urge Russia to support Turkey in its moves against the Kurds. This became clearer after the withdrawal of Russian troops during the last few days of its PYD-controlled area, Afrin, north of Idlib. This may be the preamble for a new Turkish military operation that will increase pressure on Kurdish militias by delaying US expansion plans to the east, which will change the scene in the region.
On the other hand, Russia behind Assad has increased support for Iranian hostilities towards Washington operations in southern Syria. Despite the ongoing secret talks in Amman during the past weeks between representatives from Washington, Russia and Jordan, and despite the agreement in the first place to stop the clashes between US-backed forces of the Syrian opposition and Iranian Shiite militias also supported by Russia, in southeastern Syria, tension is present and there can be a fire at all times.
Amid this great tension between Russia and the US on the Syrian territories, the city of Homs lived a huge explosion on the evening of the 30th of last month. Hours before the explosion, Russian leaks reported that Washington is preparing for a blow to targets belonging to the Assad regime and its allied militias. Syrian activists who moved to the area said the explosion could be caused by a US missile hit at the T-4 military airport at the East of the city of Homs. However, a Western source confirmed to me that the explosion was caused by a targeted Israeli air raid east of the Homs city in Oras, on a military base belonging to the Iranian militia “Revolutionary Guards” and the Lebanese terrorist organization Hizballah. The source assured me that six Israeli aircraft entered the Syrian airspace and bombed a newly created military area aimed at developing ballistic missiles. The bombardment hit an S-300 system that existed there. The Assad regime denied that the explosion was caused by an external target.
The absence of continued coordination between the international forces on the Syrian territory can pave the way for a conflict that can happen at any moment. The USS George H. W. Bush at Haifa port was indicative of high-tension in the atmosphere. Syria will be the place where one of the great powers will be defeated.