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2018-02-02 | Media

Russia's declaration of victory over IS in Syria deemed 'nonsense'


Russian President Vladamir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Asad stand together during a 'victory' ceremony at the Khmeimim airbase in Syria on December 11, 2017. [Russian Defence Ministry]

Russian President Vladamir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Asad stand together during a 'victory' ceremony at the Khmeimim airbase in Syria on December 11, 2017. [Russian Defence Ministry]

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo

Russia's declaration of victory over the "Islamic State" (IS) in Syria is no more than a political stunt, observers say.

Russia's defence ministry on December 7 announced its mission to oust IS from Syria had been "accomplished" and the country was now "completely liberated" from the group.

"The Russian armed forces' goal to defeat armed groups of the IS terrorist organisation in Syria has been accomplished," said senior military officer Sergei Rudskoi, announcing that Russian forces would begin to withdraw.


Russian President Vladamir Putin at the St. George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow on December 28, 2017, meets with military service personnel who took part in the operations in Syria. Earlier that month Russia declared 'victory' over the 'Islamic State' in Syria -- a widely rejected claim. [Kremlin]

Russian President Vladamir Putin at the St. George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow on December 28, 2017, meets with military service personnel who took part in the operations in Syria. Earlier that month Russia declared 'victory' over the 'Islamic State' in Syria -- a widely rejected claim. [Kremlin]


Syrian fighters attend their graduation ceremony near Syria's northeastern city of Hasakeh on January 20, 2018, at the end of a US-led training programme aimed at forming a security force to patrol territory captured from the 'Islamic State'. [Delil Souleiman/AFP]

Syrian fighters attend their graduation ceremony near Syria's northeastern city of Hasakeh on January 20, 2018, at the end of a US-led training programme aimed at forming a security force to patrol territory captured from the 'Islamic State'. [Delil Souleiman/AFP]

"There is not a single village or district in Syria under the control of IS. The territory of Syria has been completely liberated from fighters of this terrorist organisation," he said.

But IS remains entrenched in several parts of Syria, and has seized new territory in areas controlled by the regime and Russian and Iran-backed militias.

Recent reports clearly show IS has not been defeated in Syria, said terror group specialist and retired Egyptian officer Maj. Gen. Yahya Mohammed Ali.

"This is the opposite of what Russia has been claiming since the end of last year, when it announced with much fanfare that IS has been completely defeated and the Russian army’s mission has been accomplished," he said.

Political manoeuvring

"The areas where fighting has occurred between IS and the Syrian army and its Russian backers have indeed seen a movement of IS elements to other areas on a temporary basis, only to later return," Ali said.

This pattern has occurred in areas such as Deir Ezzor, Albu Kamal, parts of al-Badiya and areas of Tadmur (Palmyra), he said.

"This tells us that air strikes have forced IS to retreat rather than be completely defeated and eliminated, as is the case in al-Raqa," he said.

The Russian declaration is nothing more than a political manoeuvre and an attempt to show itself as a liberator of Syria -- delivering the country from terrorism so it can justify its future political, economic and military role, Ali said.

Defeating IS is not only limited to ousting the group from areas it controls, said Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) officer Farhad Khoja.

It also is linked with other operations, such as removing land mines and explosive remnants of war, as well as supporting former IS-controlled areas, which are currently under the control of the Syrian regime, he told Diyaruna.

"These are literally disaster areas and are empty of civilians," he said.

Ongoing commitment is needed

Meanwhile, efforts to restore security, infrastructure and governance are ongoing in areas where the SDF and the international coalition are operating, Khoja said.

"There, in spite of the violent battles to eliminate IS, life has gone back to normal and the displaced population has mostly returned," he said, noting that reconstruction is under way and public services are being restored.

"The people of al-Raqa have returned, and the city is run by a local council whose members are residents of the city and its countryside," Khoja added, noting that even security is managed by the local population.

A land mine removal and cleaning campaign is under way to pave the way for the population's return, he said, noting that the same is true in nearby al-Tabqa.

"Russia’s declaration of victory over IS in Syria is utter nonsense," said Syrian journalist Mohammed al-Abdullah.

"From a military standpoint, the group is still in full control of several parts of Syria, including areas in Ghouta, parts of al-Yarmouk camp as well as strategic areas in north-eastern Hama province and parts of Homs and Idlib provinces," he said, as well as a small part of eastern Deir Ezzor.

Russia's declaration of victory over the "Islamic State" (IS) in Syria is no more than a political stunt, observers say.

Russia's defence ministry on December 7 announced its mission to oust IS from Syria had been "accomplished" and the country was now "completely liberated" from the group.

"The Russian armed forces' goal to defeat armed groups of the IS terrorist organisation in Syria has been accomplished," said senior military officer Sergei Rudskoi, announcing that Russian forces would begin to withdraw.


Russian President Vladamir Putin at the St. George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow on December 28, 2017, meets with military service personnel who took part in the operations in Syria. Earlier that month Russia declared 'victory' over the 'Islamic State' in Syria -- a widely rejected claim. [Kremlin]

Russian President Vladamir Putin at the St. George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow on December 28, 2017, meets with military service personnel who took part in the operations in Syria. Earlier that month Russia declared 'victory' over the 'Islamic State' in Syria -- a widely rejected claim. [Kremlin]


Syrian fighters attend their graduation ceremony near Syria's northeastern city of Hasakeh on January 20, 2018, at the end of a US-led training programme aimed at forming a security force to patrol territory captured from the 'Islamic State'. [Delil Souleiman/AFP]

Syrian fighters attend their graduation ceremony near Syria's northeastern city of Hasakeh on January 20, 2018, at the end of a US-led training programme aimed at forming a security force to patrol territory captured from the 'Islamic State'. [Delil Souleiman/AFP]

"There is not a single village or district in Syria under the control of IS. The territory of Syria has been completely liberated from fighters of this terrorist organisation," he said.

But IS remains entrenched in several parts of Syria, and has seized new territory in areas controlled by the regime and Russian and Iran-backed militias.

Recent reports clearly show IS has not been defeated in Syria, said terror group specialist and retired Egyptian officer Maj. Gen. Yahya Mohammed Ali.

"This is the opposite of what Russia has been claiming since the end of last year, when it announced with much fanfare that IS has been completely defeated and the Russian army’s mission has been accomplished," he said.

Political manoeuvring

"The areas where fighting has occurred between IS and the Syrian army and its Russian backers have indeed seen a movement of IS elements to other areas on a temporary basis, only to later return," Ali said.

This pattern has occurred in areas such as Deir Ezzor, Albu Kamal, parts of al-Badiya and areas of Tadmur (Palmyra), he said.

"This tells us that air strikes have forced IS to retreat rather than be completely defeated and eliminated, as is the case in al-Raqa," he said.

The Russian declaration is nothing more than a political manoeuvre and an attempt to show itself as a liberator of Syria -- delivering the country from terrorism so it can justify its future political, economic and military role, Ali said.

Defeating IS is not only limited to ousting the group from areas it controls, said Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) officer Farhad Khoja.

It also is linked with other operations, such as removing land mines and explosive remnants of war, as well as supporting former IS-controlled areas, which are currently under the control of the Syrian regime, he told Diyaruna.

"These are literally disaster areas and are empty of civilians," he said.

Ongoing commitment is needed

Meanwhile, efforts to restore security, infrastructure and governance are ongoing in areas where the SDF and the international coalition are operating, Khoja said.

"There, in spite of the violent battles to eliminate IS, life has gone back to normal and the displaced population has mostly returned," he said, noting that reconstruction is under way and public services are being restored.

"The people of al-Raqa have returned, and the city is run by a local council whose members are residents of the city and its countryside," Khoja added, noting that even security is managed by the local population.

A land mine removal and cleaning campaign is under way to pave the way for the population's return, he said, noting that the same is true in nearby al-Tabqa.

"Russia’s declaration of victory over IS in Syria is utter nonsense," said Syrian journalist Mohammed al-Abdullah.

"From a military standpoint, the group is still in full control of several parts of Syria, including areas in Ghouta, parts of al-Yarmouk camp as well as strategic areas in north-eastern Hama province and parts of Homs and Idlib provinces," he said, as well as a small part of eastern Deir Ezzor.

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4 Comments

Георгий | 2018-04-02

Put Un [the author made "Putin" look like "Kim Jong Un"] told his vata he defeated ISIL ["vata" - literally "wadding", a derogatory term used to describe Putin supporters by their opponents]... as if the USA and its coalition couldn't do anything about terrorists, as if Rasha [a derogatory use of the English pronunciation of "Russia"] "came, saw, and conquered". That's the way FILTHY PROPAGANDA for human cattle is working. Now this cattle is SURE Rasha has "really" defeated IS... Then who are they bombing in Ghouta if they "won"???

пилтигрим | 2018-03-24

I'm neither Russophobic nor anti-Putin, but I think that Putin repeated the same rubbish as Bush, Jr., who declared "victory" over "global Evil"! The mission of Russia in Syria will likely be effectively doomed thanks to Putin's efforts. Russia will be bogged the f... down by acts of provocation, fabricated "international scandals", a "game of nerves," and tensions will be stoked by the "Afghanistan syndrome," which was forgotten to a great extent after Chechnya and South Ossetia. And these Kremlin whores, headed by the lifelong paper-pusher "Gazprom-Rosneft" [Gazprom, Rosneft are giant Russian oil & gas companies] will fizzle out and CERTAINLY double-cross Asad and their Syrian allies! Then their priority will not be analyzing the consequences of this kind of sellout and the reincarnation of ISIL, but how to diplomatically treat their enemies mocking them and leave [Syria] with their "head held high"... Similar things happened recently, and it's easier for the Gazprom gang to repeat and put pressure on the Kremlin-whore executive directorate than to oppose "all of progressive mankind!" Wouldn't it be easy to double-cross some kind of alawite Asad, since they simply sold out their comrades Honecker, Zhivkov, Jaruzelski, and Najibullah - the way they betrayed Gantamirov's fighters in Chechnya? The way they disgracefully lay waste to the bleeding Donbass, and will soon be laying waste to the whole "Russian World". Is Asad more loyal than Zakharchenko, and closer to Russia [the leader of Donbass separatists]? And do they [the Russians] feel offended that Russia has no allies after all this? HISTORY HAS NOT SEEN treachery like this. Putinoids, stuffed with Crimean strawberries, got megatons of "Pertsovka" [a Ukrainian and Russian kind of pepper vodka] forbidden under sanctions, and hogtied with petrodollars they keep their assets on the dark side! "Rus? sdafaysa" ["Russians, surrender!" The author mocks German accent in Russian]

мармат | 2018-02-15

The war is going on, so where is the victory here? [They] dropped bombs, trained how to kill women and children, and [now these] thugs are bragging about that!

Потап | 2018-02-11

The goal of Putin's declaration of victory over ISIL is incomprehensible. Did they expect that the United States would immediately pick up and go home [from Syria]?