Russia began airstrikes in Syria this week.
The Russians targeted rebel factions in the northwest rather than ISIS positions in the east.
Russia expanded its presence in Syria this week. The Russian Black Sea Fleet conducted naval exercises involving landing ships in the Port of Tartus. (Study of War)
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The Study of War reported:
The start of the Russian air campaign in Syria marks a dramatic step change in the Syrian Civil War and reflects a determined effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to bolster his bargaining position ahead of any negotiations over a political resolution to the conflict. The majority of Russian airstrikes in the first two days of strikes reportedly targeted Syrian rebel factions in northwestern Syria rather than ISIS positions in the east of the country, revealing the immediate Russian priority to strengthen Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and ensure his role in any future political transition. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter stated that the strikes were “tantamount to pouring gasoline on the fire,” and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asserted that the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition will not abate and will instead “dramatically accelerate” its own airstrikes in Syria…
…Although President Putin has publicly claimed that sending Russian ground troops to Syria is “out of the question,” evidence is growing that he is preparing a broader intervention. The Russian Black Sea Fleet conducted new naval exercises involving landing ships offshore from the expanding Russian naval facility at the Port of Tartus on the Syrian Coast, and Putin is apparently considering granting combatant status to Russian forces already in Syria.
— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) October 2, 2015