Unilateral airstrikes by Russia on non-Islamic State positions risks strategic disaster in Syria and the possibility of Jihadis plotting strikes against the West.
That’s the assessment of think tank the Henry Jackson Society – who call for the immediate establishment of safe havens, protected by Western military forces, to save civilian lives in Syria and restore Western leadership.
It comes after Russian defence officials said their aircraft had undertaken 20 missions against the IS militant group – amid concerns from the U.S that the targets were other Syrian groups fighting against Russia’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Dr Alan Mendoza, Executive Director at HJS says: ”Russian airstrikes against moderate rebel forces show President Putin has lied about why his forces are in Syria. Not only will this empower Islamic State by driving rebels into its arms, but it will also provoke jihadist blowback against us in the West if we do nothing to show that we care about the fate of Syria. Jihadists will propagandise that we did nothing while the ‘Butcher of Damascus’ was restored to power by non-Muslim arms.”
The Henry Jackson Society is calling for the West, led by Britain and the U.S, to do more to help the Syrian people caught up in the conflict.
Dr Alan Mendoza added: “We need to restore Western leadership now by creating safe havens where Syria’s civilians can flee to avoid Assad’s, IS’s and Russia’s brutality and where moderate rebels can regroup in safety.”