Russia has carried out its first air strikes in Syria shortly after receiving an official request of help from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and approval from the Russian parliament authorizing Vladimir Putin to send military troops into Syria.
Similar to the slow mission creep in the Ukraine, Russia’s rapid deployment to Syria for the first time in three decades is a far cry from the earlier excuse that Russia was only providing weapons and training to help the Syrian government army combat ISIS.
Russia has sent more than two dozen fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, surface-to-air missile defense systems and hundreds of troops to its only naval facility outside the former Soviet Union in the Syrian port of Tartus. However, new satellite images suggest two new military bases may be in the works to host Russian troops which suggest a much-expanded presence.
Russia has defended her actions as part of its national interests (Russia claims hundreds of its citizens are in Syria helping ISIS and could return home as a threat) and that it would only use its air force to strike ISIS. This is already being contradicted by the French Defense Minister who claims that the Russian strikes were in the Western part of the country where ISIS militants are not based and new reports suggest that the air strikes hit an area primarily held by anti-Assad rebels who are backed by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Russia has as much motivation to hit other rebel groups as it does ISIS in order to keep Assad in power and keep US supported groups from expanding their influence and reach. Syria’s main Western-backed opposition leader, Khaled Khoja, president of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, has already called Russia’s military involvement in the region an “invasion”.
These actions will have important repercussions for US policy in Syria and may present the US with no other option but to include Assad in any final political settlement. US allies Jordan and Turkey who were considering their own coordinated actions with the US to set up a buffer and no-fly zones in Syria to protect their borders will no doubt take a step back due to any increased tension with Russia.
Perhaps most worrisome for the US is a conflict of unintended consequences. Despite talks of coordination between the US and Russia, the way in which Russia warned the US of the air strikes and the US response seems to portray the exact opposite. A three-star Russian general was sent to the US embassy in Baghdad one hour before the attacks to give notice and warn the Americans to stay out of Syrian airspace. However, the US declined to change any of their missions and proceeded as usual.
The potential for an accidental exchange of fire will grow as each side vies to assert its authority in the region.
Israel is also greatly concerned that Russian actions will endanger its ability to strike Hezbollah targets in Syria and Lebanon who frequently use the conflict to transfer arms from Iran. However, like the US, Israel’s defense Minister has stressed Israel’s right to freedom of action over Syrian airspace when it felt its national security interests were threatened, including a specific warning that Israel will not tolerate Iranian troops near its border.
The scenarios for this crisis to spiral out of control are numerous and some Bible prophecy experts believe could be setting the stage for two important prophecies found in the Bible.
In Ezekiel 38, the prophet Ezekiel warned of a future war known as the war of “Gog and Magog” in which the people of Magog and their leader Gog will lead a coalition of nations (including Persia/Iran) to attack Israel.
Many Bible teachers believe historical records point to Russia as the descendants of the people of Magog which would seem to confirm Ezekiel’s warning that this invasion would be led from the people of the “far north.” Russia is the farthest country directly north of Israel. Prophecy scholars watch with fascination as Russia returns to the Middle East after a thirty-year absence and the positioning of its troops ever closer to Israel.
The 2nd prophecy is found in Isaiah 17 in which the prophet Isaiah warns that in the end times Damascus (the capital of Syria) would become a ruinous heap, never to be inhabited again (which suggests chemical or even nuclear confrontation).
Both of these Biblical prophecies appear to have just hit the fast forward button.
Source Prophecy News Watch