US Unlikely to Fight Russia Over ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels

White House Warns of 'Diplomatic Consequences' to Russia

Though the Obama Administration has “warned” Russia against attacking non-ISIS rebels in Syria, the Russian government has insisted that they are following the US example and attacking a list of different terrorist factions. Some of those factions were armed by the CIA, and still nominally are supported by the US.

This has been the source of a lot of US criticism of Russia, but when push comes to shove, most agree that the Obama Administration is unlikely to make any serious effort to try to stop Russia militarily from continuing its air campaign.

Realistically, their options are limited. The “moderate” factions from the era when the US was supporting them have, as Russia noted, in many cases defected to ISIS, and what’s left is a very limited force. Even if the US started pouring more weapons into those factions, it probably wouldn’t significantly change that, which was a big part of why the US abandoned them in the first place.

White House officials are threatening “diplomatic consequences” to Russia if they don’t do what the US wants, but even here the risk is pretty limited for Russia, as those long-forgotten factions aren’t worth anything more than some token statements of disapproval to the US, not worth a serious worsening of US-Russian relations, and certainly not worth a military confrontation.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of