US to Intensify Anti-ISIL Campaign to Counterbalance Russia, Iran

Russian aircraft at Hmeymim Air Base in Syria

The United States has decided to intensify military efforts against the Islamic State in response to Russia’s air campaign and to counter Russian and Iranian influence in the Middle East, former Pentagon official Steven Bucci told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the United States was bolstering efforts to fight the Islamic State a day after reports surfaced that the Pentagon was considering embedding US Special Forces with local units in Iraq and Syria.

“There is concern that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s support of Iranian policy objectives will destabilize the region, and therefore needs to be counterbalanced,” Bucci said on Tuesday.

Russia’s more robust military action, which is primarily intended to support Syrian President Bashar Assad, Bucci claimed, has nevertheless left President Obama’s anti-Islamic State policy looking less than effective.

“There is no doubt that the Russian actions have influenced this decision.”

The fact the United States, Bucci added, has spent a lot of time and effort replacing the Soviet Union, which is now Russia, as the major influencer in the Middle East is another contributing factor.

On September 30, Russia began an air campaign against Islamic State terrorists in Syria at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq have established the Baghdad Information Center in the Iraqi capital to coordinate intelligence and security cooperation against the Islamic State.

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