Reuters - Syria faces growing economic sanctions and condemnation over what the United Nations calls "gross human rights violations," but President Bashar al-Assad shows no sign of buckling under pressure to end his military crackdown on popular unrest.
Last week, Reuters reported a development which should have surprised precisely nobody: while the Kremlin announced one month ago that it would begin withdrawing military forces from Syria at once, Putin was doing the opposite.
There was much surprise in geopolitical circles several weeks ago when, completely out of the blue, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced he would begin withdrawing military forces from Syria at once, a move hailed by some as confirmation Russia had failed to achieve its goals in the civil war-ridden nation which serves as a hotbed of ISIS terrorist attacks around the globe, and by others as victory.
“Putin is a wily guy. He is showing he’s a statesman. Russia is also sending a message to Assad who has been sounding too confident.” That’s from Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma, and a frequent commentator on Syria’s five-year conflict.
In a day of diplomatic snafus by the Pentagon, which first admitted it had spec ops forces in Syria (remember when it was just "advisors" and the Obama administration was blaming Russia for escalating the conflict by daring to join the fight against ISIS and sending its own troops in Damascus) then promptly retracted, using the old "there was no Freudian slip"
LONDON (Reuters) - The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad has received substantial imports of Iraqi crude oil from an Egyptian port in the last nine months, shipping and payments documents show, part of an under-the-radar trade that has kept his military running despite Western sanctions.