One question that’s been asked repeatedly over the past thirteen months is why Washington has been unable to achieve the Pentagon’s stated goal of “degrading and defeating” ISIS despite the fact that the “battle” pits the most advanced air force on the planet against what amounts to a ragtag band of militants running around the desert in basketball shoes.
Those of a skeptical persuasion have been inclined to suggest that perhaps the US isn’t fully committed to the fight. Explanations for that suggestion range from the mainstream (the White House is loathe to get the US into another Mid-East war) to the “conspiratorial” (the CIA created ISIS and thus doesn’t want to destroy the group due to its value as a strategic asset).
The implication in all of this is that a modern army that was truly determined to destroy the group could likely do so in a matter of months if not weeks and so once Russia began flying sorties from Latakia, the world was anxious to see just how long the various rebel groups operating in Syria could hold up under bombardment by the Russian air force.
The answer, apparently, is “less than a week.”
On Saturday, the Russian Ministry of Defense said it has conducted 60 bombing runs in 72 hours, hitting more than 50 ISIS targets.
According to the ministry (Facebook page is here), Islamic State fighters are in a state of “panic” and more than 600 have deserted.
According to The Kremlin, the COMMAND structure is (or, more appropriately, “was”) “an ISIS hardened command centre near Raqqah.” Su-34s hit it with concrete-piercing BETAB-500s setting off a series of explosions and fires that “completely destroyed the object.”
Surgical airstrikes by Russian fighter jets have knocked out a number of Islamic State installations in Syria, including the battle headquarters of a jihadist group near Raqqa, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
“Over the past 24 hours, Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-24M fighter jets have performed 20 sorties and hit nine Islamic State installations,” Igor Konashenkov, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman, reported.
Konashenkov added that yesterday evening Russian aircraft went on six sorties, inflicting strikes on three terrorist installations.
“A bunker-busting BETAB-500 air bomb dropped from a Sukhoi Su-34 bomber near Raqqa has eliminated the command post of one of the terror groups, together with an underground storage facility for explosives and munitions,” the spokesman said.
Commenting on the video filmed by a Russian UAV monitoring the assault near Raqqa, Konashenkov noted, “a powerful explosion inside the bunker indicates it was also used for storing a large quantity of munitions.
“As you can see, a direct hit on the installation resulted in the detonation of explosives and multiple fires. It was completely demolished,” the spokesman said.
And here’s the Russian Defense Ministry taking a page out of the US Postal Service’s “neither rain, sleet, snow, nor hail” book on the way to serving notice that nothing is going to stop the Russian air force from exterminating Assad’s enemies in Syria:
Twenty-four hours a day #UAV’s are monitoring the situation in the ISIS activity areas. All the detected targets are effectively engaged day and night in any weather conditions.
Now obviously one must consider the source here, but Kremlin spin tactics aside, one cannot help but be amazed with the pace at which this is apparently unfolding. If any of the above is even close to accurate, it means that Russia is on schedule to declare victory over ISIS (and everyone else it looks like) in a matter of weeks, which would not only be extremely embarrassing for Washington, but would also effectively prove that the US has never truly embarked on an honest effort to rid Syria of the extremist groups the Western media claims are the scourge of humanity.