Who is Russia Bombing in Syria?

11.30.15

Who is Russia Bombing in Syria?

11.30.15
RIA NovostiRIA Novosti

This is the question that bothers politicians, analysts and journalists. Many scenarios have been put forth which are mostly driven by the agendas of their creators.

Contrary to the official Russian version, the West and a number of Middle Eastern countries suggest that instead of striking ISIS, the Russian Air Force targets moderate Syrian opposition forces supported by the U.S., Europe, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

As a rule, such claims refer to the statements of opposition leaders and are backed up by various maps indicating territories controlled by the sides of the conflict. According to these documents, the Russian air strike zones include the areas under the control of the moderate Syrian opposition.

(BBC)

(BBC)

However, the line between moderate rebels and jihadists is quite blurry. Judging by failures of U.S. vetted and trained militants in Syria, is appears that the U.S. military is not able to tell one from the other.

To get a grip on reality we could use the Internet in order to help us understand what was the target of the Russian Su-24 jet recently downed by a Turkish F-16.

There are online tools that allow us to find photos uploaded on social media with certain geotags. I have used one of them to check what photos had appeared in the areas that are considered to be under the control of the moderate opposition.

The red square on the map approximately indicates the search area.

(globalsecurity.org)

(globalsecurity.org)

My search provided interesting results: I’ve stumbled upon photos of people dressed as jihadists or holding banners of ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, etc. The moderate opposition should look somewhat more civilized.

Here is only a small part of the search results:

Jisr al-Shughur area

(Social media)

(Social media)

Coordinates: Latitude: 35.812134 | Longitude: 36.326981

Outskirts of Rabia

(Social media)

(Social media)

Coordinates: Latitude: 35.760889 | Longitude: 36.361313

Near Furaykah

(Social media)

(Social media)

Coordinates: Latitude: 35.691768 | Longitude: 36.333847

Near Al-Zeyarah

(Social media)

(Social media)

Coordinates: Latitude: 35.724162 | Longitude: 36.288872

Jisr al-Shughur

(Social media)

Coordinates: Latitude: 35.742026 | Longitude: 36.324062

Near Kinsabba

Social Media

Social Media

Coordinates: Latitude: 35.741998 | Longitude: 36.164589

Near Al Janoudiyah

(Social media)

(Social media)

Coordinates: Latitude: 35.883376 | Longitude: 36.295395

I am under the impression that there are two possibilities. First: Russian planes are targeting terrorist groups after all. Second: the moderate opposition is really good at disguising itself as jihadis.

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