Russia responded to Syrian requests for military assistance in the affirmative, beginning in September of 2015. Many Syrians and international observers acknowledge that Russian cooperation has helped to gradually turn the tide of war in Syria in favour of the Syrian government in its war against jihadist terrorists.
Here are the key events
1. Russian airstrikes in Hama–October and November 2015
Securing Syria’s North western regions was an early priority of the coordinated military efforts between Damascus and Moscow.
The Syrian Governorate of Hama in particular was an early flash point for fights between terrorists and government forces in populated cities.
The Russian air strikes which aided advances of the Syrian Arab Army helped to start turning the tide against terrorism in Syria’s north west.
2. Russian airstrikes in and around Homs and Latakia Governorate–December 2015- late 2016
If Syria was not able to control, contain and destroy terrorists operating in its westernmost governorates, there was a real danger that the most populous parts of the country could have been overrun.
Russian air sorties in late 2015 and throughout 2016 helped to pummel terrorists in Syria’s main coastal governorates and set the stage for the re-taking of the key city of Homs by Syria.
3. First Liberation of Palmyra–March 2017
Palmyra remains one of the most beautiful treasure troves of Hellenistic architecture in the world although much of it was vandalised and destroyed by ISIS during the group’s first conquest of the city in May 2015.
In March of 2016, Russian Aerospace Forces along with Russian Special Forces re-took the city.
Russia then helped to de-mine the area before Valery Gergiev led a special concert honouring Syrians and Russians who lost their lives during the taking of the city.
4. Battle of Aleppo–Won in December of 2016
It is now fair to say that the Battle of Aleppo was a Stalingrad moment of the Syrian conflict.
For years, the eastern part of Syria’s second city (and for many years its most populous city) was occupied by jihadist forces whose brutality towards civilians was subsequently exposed.
During the last months of the Obama White House, American propaganda against Russia and Syria’s joint liberation efforts of the city went into overdrive.
But Russia continued undeterred and by Christmas of 2016, Aleppo’s Christian and Muslim populations celebrated liberation together as both sides of the city were re-united.
East Aleppo was the last major western Syrian city to be in total control of terrorists.
It’s liberation meant that Russia’s status as Syria’s saviour was assured.
5. 2017 Ceasefire–January 2017
After much debate, a Russian authored and Turkish backed ceasefire came into effect with the backing of the Security Council of the United Nations.
This eventually paved the way for the Astana Peace Talks
6. Astana Memorandum–May 2017
Russia, Iran and Turkey, the members of the Astana Peace Group secured an agreement for the creation and implementation of so-called de-escalation zones in Syria wherein terrorists would be made to lay down their arms and forced to do so if necessary.
Unlike previous US attempts to ground Syrian and allied aircraft, these zones allow for Syria to continue its operations against terrorist targets.
7. Deir ez-Zor–Current
With Syria securing virtually all of western Syria, the most valuable and populous parts of the country as well as much of the southern border with Jordan and Iraq, the final frontier in the Syrian war against terroism will likely be in Deir ez-Zor.
While Raqqa to the north is still an important target, in many ways the top brass of ISIS have fled to Deir ez-Zor.
It was during these final battles in Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa that Russian airstrikes were said to have killed so-called ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Syria is making rapid gains on both Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor thanks in great part to Russian airstrikes clearing a path for the Syrian Arab Army to liberate the last parts of Syria still under terrorist occupation.
Russia’s aid to Syria in her time of need has made a monumental difference in helping doing what many thought was unthinkable: winning the war against terrorists and their western masters simultaneously.