63,000 Troops


Russian Imperialist Forces back up the Reactionary Assad Regime in Syria


By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 27.08.2018, www.thecommunists.net




The RCIT has always pointed out that the tyrannical Assad regime would have been already crushed by the popular revolution long time ago if it would not have had the massive military and financial support by foreign powers.


The most important foreign backers are Russia and Iran. About 200,000 soldiers from are fighting in militias controlled by the regime in Teheran – many of them coming not only from Iran but also from Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan. (1)




The Russian Forces in Syria in Detail




There are also a number of Russian troops operating in Syria. A few days ago, the Russian defence ministry provided the public with official figures. “A total of 63,012 Russian personnel have "received combat experience" in the war-torn country, the ministry said in a video about Russia's campaign to support the Syrian regime dating back to September 2015. This number includes 25,738 ranking officers and 434 generals as well as 4,349 artillery and rocket specialists, it said. (...) The ministry said Wednesday that Russian airforce had conducted more than 39,000 sorties that killed "over 86,000 militants" and destroyed 121,466 "terrorist targets". It said its forces had tested 231 types of modern weaponry in Syria including aircraft, surface-to-air systems, cruise missiles and others.(2)


To this one has to add a number of private Russian military contractors who are also operating in Syria. They are organized under the command of the so-called Wagner Group (a kind of Russian version of the notorious US mercenaries company Blackwater). According to Yevgeny Shabayev, a local leader of a paramilitary organization in Russia, “Russia has 2,000 to 3,000 contractors fighting in Syria.(3)


Most importantly Russia deploys its Air Force as well as a number of warships in Syria. While the air force operates from the Russian-controlled air base in Hmeymim, the warships are based in the Russian-controlled naval facility in Tartus. The Russian Air Force has proven decisive to support the Assadist and Iranian-led troops to advance against the liberated territories controlled by the rebel forces.


Of course, the Russian troops are not the only imperialist force operating in Syria. There are also a number of U.S. troops in Syria – about 2,000 soldiers – who are closely collaborating with the Kurdish YPG/SDF in the North and East of Syria. And there are also smaller numbers of French troops.


But the 63,000 Russian troops who have been deployed in Syria in the past three years have been without doubt the most important imperialist force in this country. (4)




From Astana to the Final Onslaught on Idlib




The support of Russian imperialism will again prove decisive if the Assad regime and the Iranian-led militias will launch their onslaught on Idlib – the last citadel of the Syrian Revolution – in the coming weeks. (5)


The goal of the unholy alliance of Assad, Putin and Rouhani is to finally smash the popular uprising of the Syrian workers and poor peasants which started in March 2011. They have been decisively helped in their sinister plan by the so-called Astana process which began in January 2017. This is the name of the reactionary conspiracy of Putin, Rouhani and Turkey’s Erdoğan aimed at ending the liberation struggle of the Syrian people. Unfortunately, the Turkish regime has succeeded in corrupting a sector of the Syrian FSA rebel leadership in supporting the Astana deal.


The most important result of the negotiations in Astana has been the creation of four so-called “de-escalation zones” – in Ghouta, northern Homs, Deraa, and Idlib – in September 2017. The RCIT has warned from the beginning that the Astana process has been a treacherous plot in order to sell-out the liberation struggle. (6) We have pointed out that the purpose of these “de-escalation zones” was to pacify the liberation struggle and to allow the regime to prepare its aggression. And indeed, as soon as Assad had finished his preparations, his army – with the military support of the Russian and Iranian forces and with the tacit agreement of Erdoğan – attacked and smashed one liberated enclave after the other. Ghouta was defeated in April this year. The Rastan pocket in Homs collapsed in May. And in June came the turn to Daraa. Now, the butcher of Damascus assembles his troops in the north in order to assault and smash the last liberated enclave.




In Face of Cowardice and Treachery: Defend the Syrian Revolution in Idlib!




No one must forget the devastating responsibility of the treacherous rebel leaderships which supported the Astana process and preached trust in the negotiations of Putin, Rouhani and Erdoğan. No one must have any doubt about the reactionary role of the Turkish regime which claims to support the rebels but in fact sells out the struggle as it is only interested in suppressing the Kurdish people as well as in making profitable deals with the imperialist Great Powers.


And no one must forget the pathetic role of most sectors of the international “left”. Many of them – the Stalinists and their friends – have always hailed the Assad tyranny. To name a few of them, we refer to the Communist Parties in Syria and Egypt, the Russian KPRF of Zyuganov and the RKRP of Tjulkin, or the WWP and the PSL in the U.S. Other supported the Syrian Revolution at the beginning in 2011 but cowardly deserted it later (e.g. Peter Taffees CWI, Alan Woods IMT, the PTS/FT, the L5I and various others). (7)


The RCIT repeats, that faced with the final onslaught on Idlib, the last citadel of the Syrian Revolution, no honest revolutionary, no socialist, no democrat can remain neutral. Those who have remained loyal to the liberation struggle must now stand with the fighters who refuse to capitulate!


We call all those who support the Syrian Revolution to reject the reactionary Astana conspiracy, to support the continuation of the liberation struggle and to side with those forces who are ready to fight against the sell-out.






(1) Ahmad Rafat: IRGC Commander Claims 200,000 Iran-backed Troops In Syria, December 31, 2016 https://kayhanlife.com/translated-features/irgc-commander-claims-200000-iran-backed-troops-in-syria/


(2) AFP: Russia says over 63,000 troops have fought in Syria, August 22, 2018, https://www.yahoo.com/news/russia-says-over-63-000-troops-fought-syria-141424820.html


(3) Rinat Sagdiev, Maria Tsvetkova, Olena Vasina: Special Report: How a secret Russian airlift helps Syria's Assad, Reuters, April 6, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-flights/special-report-how-a-secret-russian-airlift-helps-syrias-assad-idUSKCN1HD18Y; see also Russian ships have left Tartus base in Syria for own safety: official, 2018-04-12 https://www.dailysabah.com/syrian-crisis/2018/04/12/russian-ships-have-left-tartus-base-in-syria-for-own-safety-official


(4) Concerning the Great Power rivalry and imperialist interventions in the Middle East we refer, among others, to a joint statement issued by the RCIT and supported by five other organizations: Warmongering in the Middle East: Down with all Imperialist Great Powers and Capitalist Dictatorships! Joint Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), Alkebulan School of Black Studies (Kenya), Pacesetters Movement (Nigeria), Pan-Afrikan Consciousness Renaissance (Nigeria), Marxist Group ‘Class Politics’ (Russia), and Sınıf Savaşı (Turkey), 13 May 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/joint-statement-warmongering-in-the-middle-east/;


(5) Michael Pröbsting: Syria: Towards the Final Battle in Idlib. Assad, Russia, Iran and Turkey prepare for the final onslaught on the last Citadel of the Syrian Revolution, 04.08.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/syria-towards-the-final-battle-in-idlib/


(6) See on this various statements which are collected in a special section of our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/collection-of-articles-on-the-syrian-revolution/. In particular we refer to Michael Pröbsting: Is the Syrian Revolution at its End? Is Third Camp Abstentionism Justified? An essay on the organs of popular power in the liberated area of Syria, on the character of the different sectors of the Syrian rebels, and on the failure of those leftists who deserted the Syrian Revolution, 5 April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/syrian-revolution-not-dead/ and chapter V of Michael Pröbsting: World Perspectives 2018: A World Pregnant with Wars and Popular Uprisings, February 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/worldperspectives-2018/chapter-v/.


(7) See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Syria and Great Power Rivalry: The Failure of the „Left“. The bleeding Syrian Revolution and the recent Escalation of Inter-Imperialist Rivalry between the US and Russia – A Marxist Critique of Social Democracy, Stalinism and Centrism, 21 April 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/syria-great-power-rivalry-and-the-failure-of-the-left/




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The RCIT has published a number of booklets, statements and articles on the Syrian Revolution which can be read on a special sub-section on this website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/collection-of-articles-on-the-syrian-revolution/.