WW4/Middle East Files: Russian warplanes intercept, but refrain from shooting down US Predator drones over ISIS-held territory in Syria as Moscow escalates its week-old air war against anti-Assad forces, Caspian Fleet launches 26 long-range missiles at 11 Islamic State targets in Syria, missiles travel at least 930 miles over N. Iran and Iraq; Russian DM Shoigu says Islamic State assets destroyed include command centre, ammo depots, “no damage to civilian installations,” denies Western accusations Russia not really going after ISIS; Turkish PM Davutoglu: “These air raids are not against ISIS. There were 57 air raids by Russian air forces. Fifty-five of them were against moderate opposition and only two were against Daesh [ISIS] . . .”; collateral benefit for Kremlin includes demonstrating Russia’s resolve, might to politically divided West, sectarian-divided Islamic world; following 2 airspace violations by Russian Sukhois flying combat missions in Syria, Turkish President Erdogan reminds Moscow that any “attack on Turkey means an attack on Nato”; meanwhile, Syrian army, under cover of Russian airstrikes, prosecutes new ground offensive against US-backed and Islamist rebels in Hama, Idlib provinces; Royal Australian Air Force, fearing confrontation with Russian warplanes, suspends anti-ISIS airstrikes

Putin’s throwing everything’s he got at the Syrian crisis, all in an effort to maintain and expand Russia’s military presence outside the FSU.

source 1 source 2 source 3 source 4 source 5 source 6

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