Ground Operation in Syria 'Under Discussion'
Kremlin insider tells Al Jazeera that Moscow is
considering sending special forces to fight against
Syrian rebel groups.
By Zeina Khodr
Clearing House" -
Russian President Vladimir Putin may
deploy special operations forces on the ground in
Syria, a former official has told Al Jazeera, a move
that might be made to ensure "a decisive victory".
It has been
more than eight months since Russia intervened in
the Syrian conflict, and at the time Putin said
there were no plans to participate in ground
operations - but he also said "for now".
reportedly discussing with military commanders the
possibility of deploying combat troops on the
under discussion, there are plans for this," Andrei
Fyodorov, a former deputy minister for foreign
affairs, told Al Jazeera.
reinforcements could be special forces or volunteer
soldiers who are willing to fight alongside the
Syrian army and its allies.
"This is a
delicate issue for our military. There are serious
doubts that any participation by Russia on the
ground would be favourable. [Rather it could]
complicate the negotiation process and lead to
further disagreements with the US," Fyodorov
are those in political and military circles who
believe this deployment is needed.
firepower prevented the collapse of the Syrian
government last year. Damascus was struggling to
repel rebel advances on several fronts.
wanted to tip the balance in favour of its ally
enough to allow it to benefit at the negotiating
battle lines did not change and peace talks led
nowhere. Neither side was willing to compromise nor
strong enough to impose a settlement.
Russian point of view, [Syrian President Bashar]
al-Assad should control 70 percent of Syria, and
that way you can hold elections and they would be
favourable for Assad. That is why the issue of
ground operations is becoming more actual," said
weeks, Russia's role on the Syrian battlefield was
noticeably reduced as Moscow wanted to give a chance
to political talks.
message was clear when Russia did not provide close
air power to the Syrian government and its allies in
their military campaign in Aleppo in early May.
But on May
22, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
reported the first Russian air strikes in Aleppo
province since the US-Russian brokered a cessation
of hostilities deal in February.
defence ministry has said it recently intensified
strikes against al-Nusra Front in Aleppo and Idlib
provinces, and said that the conflict would only
escalate after blaming Washington's refusal to join
efforts in the fight against what it called
little choice. It can't allow itself to lose Aleppo.
This would deprive it of a trump card. This would
enable the other side to regain the initiative and
[force Russia] to accept conditions not favourable
for Assad," Sergey Strokan, a political analyst,
told Al Jazeera.
Russian voices within the government and military
pushing for the ground operation.
intervention in Syria has been costly - billions of
dollars have already been spent, and the country is
suffering from an economic crisis.
never wanted a permanent war, and it can't just pull
out of a conflict that has brought it back into the
That is why
some analysts suggest a "Stalingrad" in Syria is
what the Syrian government and its allies need - a
final battle to decisively end the war. And that
would require ground troops.
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