A new series of graphics from The New York Times shows the divergent U.S. and Russian approaches to Syria with dazzling simplicity.
The images include various maps of Syrian territory, colored according to which faction controls it: President Bashar Assad’s government, Islamic State, other rebel groups or Kurdish militias. But one side-by-side perfectly sums up the difference between the American and Russian strategies.
— Andrew Stroehlein (@astroehlein) October 6, 2015
Russia’s airstrikes, which began in late September, are much denser than U.S. bombing raids carried out in a similar time period. And while the American airstrikes focus on Islamic State’s core territory, Russian strikes are clustered in the country’s west, near a concentration of non-Islamic State rebels. (RELATED: Russia’s First Strikes In Syria Prove They’re Not Fighting ISIS)
In fact, a further breakdown by the Times shows that most Russian airstrikes were concentrated on the lines between Assad and rebels, including some groups that are aligned with the United States.
While the stated intention behind Russia’s Syrian incursion was fighting Islamic State and “other terrorist groups,” the Kremlin’s behavior has revealed a much broader strategy of backing up Assad’s own forces. (RELATED: Forget Syrian Rebels: US Training Has Done Nothing In These Countries Either)
Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin has expressed hope that Russia can “work together on the problems we all face” with the United States, despite targeting groups supported by the U.S.
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