ISIS Has Actually Gained Ground Since Russian Airstrikes Began

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Ivan Plis Reporter, Daily Caller News Foundation
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The Islamic State is reportedly gaining ground in areas targeted by Russian airstrikes, in spite of Russia’s claim to be at war with the group.

The map below, created from open-source reports by a collaborative project called the Institute for United Conflict Analysts, shows how ISIS has pushed into a new area that has been defined by fighting between Syrian government forces and non-Islamic state rebels (including those backed by the U.S.). (RELATED: See The American And Russian Bombings In Syria Side-By-Side)

Most Russian bombing runs have focused on the front line between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military and those rebel groups. But Kremlin rhetoric continues to focus on ISIS as its primary target, as it conflates ISIS and other rebel groups. (RELATED: 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Russian Propaganda)

The Russian strategy echoes Assad’s overall approach to the rebels — bombing them while allowing ISIS to grow in order to bolster the most extreme group in the field as the bloodiest alternative to Assad’s rule.

The Syrian government is a key ally of Russia, which depends on the Mediterranean coastline for warm-water naval access. Russia also frequently portrays itself as the sole foreign defender of the Christians that suffer under fire from Islamic State and other jihadis.

In at least one case, a U.S.-funded branch of the Free Syrian Army’s rebels fielded simultaneous attacks from ISIS car bombs and Russian warplanes. The Daily Beast went so far as to label the Russian effort as “air support for the jihadists’ ground assaults.”

Fighting in the same area this week killed Hossein Hamedani, an Iranian general helping to bolster the Syrian government’s fight.

NOW CHECK OUT: Explained In Two Minutes: The Insane Rise Of ISIS [VIDEO]

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