NEW DELHI: Russian President Vladimir Putin is in the driver’s seat in tackling Daesh in Syria, with the active help of the Bashar al Assad government.

The Paris attacks have led to what could become a major reversal in policy with the United States now revisiting its support for Daesh and meeting with Russia for joint military action. The US, along with France that had become part of Washington’s wars in Libya, Yemen, Syria are now in the midst of meetings with Russia and Syria to finalise a plan of action against Daesh that claims to have its headquarters in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

President Putin has now also created a stir by confirming reports being carried by the ‘alternative’ media in the world, including The Citizen, of the funding and support given by governments to create and nurture Daesh. He shared Russian intelligence data confirming that 40 countries had financed Daesh, of which he said many were G20 countries. The Russian President, thus, became the first major leader to state the ‘secret’ as it were, saying, “I provided examples based on our data on the financing of different Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) units by private individuals. This money, as we have established, comes from 40 countries and, there are some of the G20 members among them.”

"I’ve shown our colleagues photos taken from space and from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil and petroleum products," he told journalists.

“The motorcade of refueling vehicles stretched for dozens of kilometers, so that from a height of 4,000 to 5,000 meters they stretch beyond the horizon," he added in a disclosure that has added to pressure on the US, its Nato allies that include France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Israel amongst others who have been working together to support and finance Daesh to realise their common aim to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria and bring this country under their control.


Syria’s Ambassador to India Riad Abbas confirmed this maintaining that the Russians came to Syria on the invitation of his country’s President Bashar al Assad. The French bombing on Raqqa he said was illegal, as the French had closed their embassy in Damascus and hence had no diplomatic relations with Syria. It might be recalled that France had moved fairly rapidly from a country opposing the US invasion of iraq, to a staunch ally of the US insofar as waging war on sovereign nations was concerned. The massive strikes on Paris, recently, have generated world pressure that is now compelling the US and its allies to re-visit their so called war against terror in West Asia.

A high level French delegation met President Assad recently and was told that a coordinated strategy was possible provided France brought it all up on the table, by opening its mission in Damascus. The Syrian government, the Ambassador here said, was clear that it would not participate in any clandestine operation, and for France to be part of the fight against Daesh it would have to re-open its Embassy and work with the coalition that is serious about tackling Daesh and currently consists of the “Syrians and the Russians.”

Ambassador Abbas who has represented Syria in India through the travails, beginning with the arming of the rebels by the US and its allies, was optimistic that in the changed scenario Daesh would finally be defeated. He said that the Syrian Army was well equipped to take full control of Raqqa, “provided Turkey closed its borders” and stopped playing the proactive role in favour of the insurgents and militants in the country.

The attack on Paris and the subsequent pressure from peoples across the world seems to be calling for a change in strategy. As Ambassador Abbas said, “the Russians have achieved far more in the fight against Daesh than the Americans have in so many years.” He recalled how the Syrian government had from the first outbreak of trouble in Homs called upon the world not to fund what were not just rebels but Salafists, “but even at that early stage the Americans armed them with communication equipment, and with weaponry.” Since then, as President Putin has now confirmed, not just the Americans but 40 countries have been supporting Daesh as it has grown from strength to strength since.

He told reporters recently, "We need to organize work specifically concentrated on the prevention of terrorist attacks and tackling terrorism on a global scale. We offered to cooperate [with the US] in anti-IS efforts. Unfortunately, our American partners refused. They just sent a written note and it says: ‘we reject your offer.”

“But life is always evolving and at a very fast pace, often teaching us lessons. And I think that now the realization that an effective fight [against terror] can only be staged together is coming to everybody,” the Russian leader said.

“They’re afraid to inform us on the territories which we shouldn’t strike, fearing that it is precisely where we’ll strike; that we are going to cheat everybody,”he added.

Syrian sources maintained that the Russian intervention has not just begun a real fight against Daesh, but has also ensured that the attempts to break up Syria will fail and that it will remain one sovereign country. The US charge against Russia when it moved militarily into Syria was that President Putin was there to just help President Assad. This was strongly refuted with the Russian President making it very clear that his intention was to fight the real enemy, that is Daesh, and prevent it from expanding further.

The Russians have been bombing Raqqa as there was no cooperation from the rest of the world players in the region. But as the Syrian Ambassador now told The Citizen, the new realisation after the Paris attacks might help change this policy to a more realistic and effective approach. In that aerial bombings were not the solution, as “how do we know who is being killed, the civilians or indeed Daesh fighters.”

Significantly, over half of the population of this 500 million city still remain, with 200 million having fled the ‘war.’ Fears that more civilians have died are real, and the Syrians now hope that if Turkey closes its borders as is being suggested, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar stop financing and supporting Daesh, “the Syrian Army supported by the Russian Air Force will then be able to move into Raqqa”, the Ambassador said. For the first time in years he was able to see a “good end” to the war that has almost destroyed Syria, although President Assad held on despite the onslaught, “as the war on Daesh has now started in earnest.”