Russian military officials suggested a dramatic shift in their Syrian war strategy is taking place this week, having secured a pledge of cooperation from certain unnamed secular rebel factions in Syria, who are providing them with targeting details on strikes against ISIS.
Russia had previously relied more or less entirely on intelligence from the Syrian, Iranian, and Iraqi militaries for their strikes on the ground, and the inclusion of rebel factions suggests there is growing acceptance among at least some rebels for Russian involvement in the war.
This could be a major shift, not just in giving Russia more targeting intelligence, but some de facto allies other than the Assad government, which may give a significant boost to their long-standing effort to cobble together a new “unity government” in Syria that would include secular rebels to unite against ISIS.
Russian officials said the intelligence provided by the rebels resulted in today’s strikes against Palmyra (Tadmur) in the country’s center, as well as targets in and around Deir Ezzor. The Russian defense ministry said it proved an interest in uniting against the “common enemy of international terrorism.”