- Russian airstrikes have targeted areas controlled by various opposition factions on the borders of government-held territory in Latakia and Hama but they have focused far less on their stated target of the Islamic State. This coincides with Hizbullah media on 12 October claiming an increase in ground forces being supplied by Iran to support the Syrian government.
- Russia and Iran are jointly expanding their role in Syria and Iraq against the proxies of Saudi Arabia and Turkey, in order to preserve the allied governments in Baghdad and Damascus.
- Saudi Arabia and Turkey are in effect being offered influence in areas of Syria and Iraq that are not strategically important, reducing the likelihood that they would acquiesce to an agreement that is in line with Russia and Iran’s interests.
Russian Iranian shared interests
On a global level, Russia is likely to see an alliance with Iran as a way to project power into the Gulf, as the United States reduces its support for monarchies in that region. It also is likely to believe that an alliance with Iran, and even India, is a way of checking the influence of Sunni Muslim states such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Pakistan, and preventing them from sponsoring Islamist militant proxies in Central Asia and the Russian North Caucasus. For Iran, an alliance with a global superpower helps it further its regional interests, especially in the priority area of the Sunni-Shia conflict.
On a regional level, Russia and Iran fear that the fall of Assad would lead to a resurgence in Salafi jihadism in several other countries, partly driven by the movement of foreign jihadists currently in Syria to new theatres of battle or to their home countries.
Full article: Joint Russian-Iranian intervention in Syria will allow the government to hold territory and likely expand into Iraq (IHS Jane’s 360)
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