Source: Jonathan Marcus, BBC Diplomatic Correspondent, quoting US-based analyst Michael Kofman, December 15
“…This will entail the defeat of fighters backed by the US, and its coalition allies, leaving the Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front the only alternatives to Assad.
“I suspect this is precisely what Russia is after, eliminating the immediate threat to the Syrian army, leaving no sensible opposition to Assad, while legitimating his forces as part of an anti-IS coalition.
“Further down the line, Russia will likely seek European support for a new political process, and try to force the US to come on board, as a vehicle for accepting Assad staying in power in the near term.”
One of the great paradoxes of the current situation [Kofman] notes is that “a more robust American campaign against IS is complementary with Russian objectives, and a win-win scenario for Assad.
“Ultimately, Russia and Iran have secured their position in Syria. Assad or no Assad, the West will have to deal with Russia directly, and most likely as an equal, in settlement to the Syrian conflict.”