Donald Trump has recently been praising Russian President Vladimir Putin for his military intervention in Syria, claiming that he got to know Putin while filming a “60 Minutes” segment for which the two gave separate interviews that took place on separate continents.
“I like that Putin is bombing the hell out of ISIS,” Trump said back in October. The next month, Trump claimed that “Russia’s been amazing in what they’re doing because they’re fighting to win,” again saying that it’s “wonderful” that Putin is “really bombing the hell out of them.”
Of course, it’s been well-reported that the vast majority of Russian airstrikes take place nowhere near ISIS territory, even “giving cover to fighters from the so-called Islamic State” by bombing rebels who oppose ISIS, while letting the terrorist organization go unscathed.
On Saturday, Roy Gutman of McClatchy described how Russian airstrikes have “benefited the Islamic State” and are helping the group gain territory in Syria as it attacks anti-regime rebels, who, along with civilians and relief agencies, bear the brunt of Russian attacks.
In the days since Turkey downed a Russian warplane that flew into its airspace, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a bombing campaign that’s destroyed bakeries and relief convoys in northern Syria, cutting the flow of food to more than half a million civilians.
The result has been a complete halt in relief operations by major humanitarian aid groups, all of which operate out of Turkey. It’s also brought the region to the brink of further catastrophe as hundreds of thousands of residents are caught in the crossfire and are unable to flee their homes.
The stepped-up Russian bombing campaign has had another effect, rebels and aid workers say, allowing the Islamic State to move into areas that it previously had not controlled close to the Turkish border.
The Russian air campaign, combined with a ground offensive by Iranian and Syrian government forces, also benefited the Islamic State, which reportedly has advanced as moderate rebel forces fell back to meet the Iranian push.
And while moderate Arab rebel forces, backed by U.S. and Turkish air strikes, have conquered several villages controlled by the Islamic State close to the Turkish border, the main gains in the fighting of the past 10 days have been made by the Islamic State, observers say.
Gutman goes on to detail how Russian airstrikes have pounded rebels who are fighting ISIS near the city of Azaz.
Unlike the Russian air campaign, the U.S.-led coalition has actually targeted ISIS with over 8,000 airstrikes. And Trump, displaying both his propensity for stroking his ego and making false claims, is trying to take the credit.