Commentary by Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 4 February 2018, www.thecommunists.net
Syrian Liberation Fighters have scored a rare, albeit small, victory in this difficult time. They successfully downed a Russian warplane with a shoulder launched anti-aircraft missile on 3 February. (1)
This is to be welcomed by all supporters of the Syrian people’s struggle against the Assad tyranny and its Russian and Iranian masters. In recent months, these reactionary forces have once again launched an indiscriminate campaign of terror against the Syrian people in Idlib.
The systematic carpet bombing by Russian warplanes plays a crucial role in the military advances of the Assadist army and Iranian militias. As a result, more than 210,000 Syrians have fled their homes since mid December 2017! In the area around Saraqeb for example, where the warplane was shot down yesterday in the afternoon, Russian bombers had carried out more than 25 raids since early morning.
The Russian army reacted in its well known manner to the loss of their warplane – like the U.S. did in Vietnam. They fired a salvo of cruise missiles into Idlib province from Russian navy vessels in the Mediterranean, killing at least 14 civilians and wounded dozen more.
Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a petty-bourgeois Islamist resistance movement which has become the dominating force in Idlib, claimed responsibility for downing the Russian warplane. They emphasized the importance of defending the Syrian people against the terrorist carpet bombing by the Russian Air Force. Mahmoud al-Turkmani, the commander of their recently formed Air Defence Brigade, stated: "We were able to bring down the Russian warplane with a shoulder-fired missile above Saraqib in Idlib this afternoon (...) This work is the least we can do to revenge our people. Let the criminal invaders know that our skies are not a picnic and they will not pass through without paying a price, God willing”. (2) HTS also published a video about the shooting down on their Ebaa Agency website. (3)
While the Turkish Erdoğan regime and the US Administration of Donald Dumb protest sometimes hypocritically against the mass killing of the Syrian people, they are in fact accomplices of this genocide. As we have pointed out many times, Turkey has reached an agreement in principle with Russia, Iran and Assad about the division of Syria, about keeping Assad in power and about the liquidation of the Syrian Revolution (Astana Deal, Sochi Conference).
And it is well know that the US Administration shares the same goals. It has only the intention to keep a share of Syria in the north east of the country under its control. Leading representatives of the Assad regime openly boast about Trumps consent to its goal to conquer Idlib and to liquidate the resistance. The Syrian regime envoy for Displacing Aleppo residents’ agreement, Omar Rahmon publicly claimed that the Syrian regime forces will capture Idlib city with the consent of U.S. He wrote on his Twitter account “Idlib will be liberated by the Syrian Army from terrorism and will return to Syria, with the back-up of Syria’s allies and consent of oppositions’ allies including U.S.” (4)
The shooting down of the Russian warplane is a major political blow for Russian imperialism. Putin pretends that his side has already won in Syria. Now Moscow has to face the reality that the resistance is still very alive and able to deliver embarrassing blows against the invaders. We can expect that imperialist Russia will now hasten its efforts to bring Idlib under its control with the help of the Turkish army as well as Assad’s militias so that it can smash the last bastion of the Syrian Revolution.
The RCIT emphasizes once more that it is now more important than ever to show international solidarity with the Syrian liberation fighters! As we wrote in a recent RCIT statement: “All supporters of the Syrian liberation struggle and all socialists around the world must rally their forces to aid the resistance against the Assadist-Iranian-Russian aggression in Idlib, East Ghouta and other places! We must not watch passively when the revolution is strangled by the aggression and betrayal of the imperialist Great Powers, the Assad dictatorship and reactionary regional powers.” (5)
(1) Russian Sukhoi fighter jet shot down in Syria's Idlib, 2018-02-03, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/russian-sukhoi-fighter-jet-shot-syria-idlib-180203182148377.html; Syrian rebel group claim downing of Russian plane, 4 February, 2018 https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/2/3/syrian-rebel-group-claims-downing-of-russian-plane; Syrian rebels shoot down Russian jet in Idlib, 2018-02-03 https://en.zamanalwsl.net/news/article/32659/; Asharq Al-Awsat: Syrian Factions Down Russian Fighter Jet, 3 February, 2018 - https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1163666/syrian-factions-down-russian-fighter-jet
(2) Syrian rebels shoot down Russian plane, kill pilot: Monitor, MEE and agencies, 3 February 2018 http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/opposition-rebels-shoot-down-russian-plane-and-capture-pilot-monitor-71630068; Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Polina Devitt: Syrian rebels down Russian plane, kill pilot, Reuters, February 3, 2018 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-airplane/syrian-rebels-down-russian-plane-kill-pilot-idUSKBN1FN0IU
(4) Wissam Al-Ahmed and Talal Kharrat: The Army Will Liberate Idlib With The Consent Of America – Omar Rahmon, Qasioun Agency, 3 February 2018, http://qasioun-news.com/en/news/show/129717/The_Army_Will_Liberate_Idlib_With_The_Consent_Of_America_%E2%80%93_Omar_Rahmon
(5) RCIT: Syria: No to Turkey’s Attack on Afrin! Defend the Syrian Revolution against Annihilation! The Syrian Revolution must reject sectarianism and strive to create multinational unity among Arabs, Turks and Kurds! Rally all forces against the Assadist-Iranian-Russian Aggression in Idlib! 22.01.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/no-to-turkey-s-attack-on-afrin/
For our analysis of the Syrian Revolution we refer readers to our numerous documents and statements which are collected at the relevant subsection on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/collection-of-articles-on-the-syrian-revolution/