Pravda.Ru interviews specialist on Iran and the Middle East, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Igor Pankratenko, about the current state of affairs in Syria. We spoke to Mr. Pankratenko about the situation in Palmyra, the Syrian-Turkish relations, the goals of the West in Syria and Iran's assistance to Damascus.
The war in Syria continues for the sixth year already. It all started as protests against the Syrian regime. The protests evolved into the struggle against one of the three world evils - international terrorism.
Despite all attempts to achieve truce in Syria, the offensive on the forces of the Syrian government and allies continues.
"Palmyra was liberated from ISIS militants in March of this year. There are reports saying that the militants have encircled the city again. The news from Aleppo is alarming as well. What is happening in Syria now?"
"There are fierce fightings in Aleppo. Islamic State units have achieved considerable progress recently. The situation in Deir ez-Zor is very difficult; the outskirts of Palmyra have been under attack again. Several units have been cut off from main forces in the south-west and in the north-west of Palmyra. The road to Homs is now in the line of sight for the militants.
"The attack of the government forces in Latakia was thwarted and repulsed. At the same time, ISIS units attacked Fallujah and Ramadi in Iraq. Government forces suffered serious losses both in Iraq and Syria - several hundreds of people were killed."
"What territories do Islamic State militants control in Syria now?"
"With regard to the territory under the control of the Islamists, they control as much territory as they did before the Russian operation in Syria. Recently, they have taken even more territory as a result of offensive operations. One should bear in mind the fact that taking territory under control is not the prime goal for terrorists."
"How do you think the situation will develop in this war? What does Damascus need to do to keep advantage in the resistance?"
"The offensive potential of the Syrian army has been completely exhausted in previous battles. Nowadays, it all rests on the Iranians, Hezbollah units and battalions of Shiite volunteers. The only way out for Damascus is to switch to flexible strategic defense, not to lose at least what has been left."
"Turkish President Erdogan claimed that the US is more preoccupied with sexual minorities and their rights, rather than with the Syrian people and all the horrors that they have to go through. At the same time, there are reports saying that mercenaries, arms and ammo still arrive from Turkey to Syria. Earlier, it was said that Turkey was sending its soldiers to Syria. What can you say about these contradictions?"
"The Islamists have intensified missile attacks of Turkish settlements from the Syrian territory. They use mobile systems for their attacks. The Turkish artillery responds, but it does not solve the problem at all: the attackers leave immediately. Ankara decided to use raid groups of Turkish special forces on the Syrian territory that can hardly be called as such, because Damascus does not actually control that zone. Additionally, Turkey decided to attract its Syrian allies. In April, pro-Turkish units in Syria started the operations to eliminate ISIS fighters on the border between Syria and Turkey.
"Finally, Turkey offers the US military to coordinate efforts - from the use of drones available at Incirlik Air Base to aviation support for ground operations conducted by pro-Turkish forces in Syria against the Islamic State."
"So who is fighting against whom in Syria today?"
"Currently, this is a war of all against all. The West has not changed its posture: Syria must move under the control of the West without Assad. One does not hear much of anti-Assad rhetoric these days, but there is a simple explanation to this: there is no clear strategy for the final solution of the Syrian crisis. There are no people who will replace the people in the sitting Syrian government and so forth. When all these questions are solved, we will see the final stage of the process to reformat Syria.
Interview conducted by Nina Leontieva
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