When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

As Tensions Rise With U.S., Russia Teams Up With Iran To Help Assad

The U.S. is actively trying to block new Russian military aid to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Moscow sees its best alternative is to team up with Tehran.

Russian MiG-29 fighter jets
Russian MiG-29 fighter jets
Olga Kuznetsova, Maxim Yusin and Ivan Safronov


MOSCOW — A Russian government source has told Kommersant that Moscow is working actively with Iran to keep Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in power.

The Kremlin source said that cooperation between Moscow and Tehran has been continuing for some time "to keep the Assad regime afloat," in the face of several setbacks recently for Damascus.

The report comes amid Western media reports that Russia is sending troops to Syria to fight alongside Assad forces, which the US says would lead to an escalation of the conflict and a direct clash with the international coalition fighting against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria. (On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the Kremlin confirmed that some of its military experts are indeed in Syria.)

The Russian presence in Syria threatens to deepen the rift between Moscow and the West, and has led to the U.S. taking the unprecedented step of asking Greece to close its airspace to any Russian aircraft carrying aid to Syria.

The deputy head of Russia's Federation Council, Vladimir Jabbarov insisted that even if Greece closes its airspace, Russia would still find new flight routes to Syria. Still, this would be difficult to carry through because it would mean going through Turkey or Iraq. Turkey is a NATO member and opposes Assad, while Iraq is closely linked to the US as part of an international coalition fighting ISIS.

Boots on the ground

For this reason, Russia considers Iran as the best alternative in its efforts to help Assad because it has long-established supply routes — mostly through parts of Iraqi territory — to reach Damascus.

[rebelmouse-image 27089371 alt="""" original_size="500x308" expand=1]

Putin and Assad in Moscow in 2005 — Photo: Kremlin.ru

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has again come out in support of Damascus, stating that the responsibility for the bloodshed in Syria lies with those countries that have called for Assad's overthrow.

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has said any media reports "are false" if they imply that Moscow has agreed to a deal with Saudi Arabia and the U.S. to remove the Syrian President. She even revealed details of how Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a phone conversation that Moscow always had, and would continue, to provide military support to Damascus.

"Russia has never concealed that it supplies military equipment to the Syrian authorities to combat terrorism," Zakharova said.

A senior Russian government source told Kommersant that information of a Russian troop presence in Syria is a "gross exaggeration," but he added the caveat that "a number of military experts does not constitute a strike force," confirming that Russia is contributing nonetheless with advisors and other personnel.

Meanwhile, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Moscow and Damascus enjoy a "working relationship" and that there is nothing wrong with Russia cooperating with the Syrian authorities.

News of Russian troops in Syria would only increase the level of distrust between Moscow and the West, and reflects fundamental differences in the approaches for resolving the Syrian crisis. Washington sees Assad as the cause of the rise of ISIS, while Moscow says that if he is overthrown, Islamists would seize Damascus, and most of the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned Western countries about meddlesome foreign policy, "especially in regions of the Muslim world."

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Is Disney's "Wish" Spreading A Subtle Anti-Christian Message To Kids?

Disney's new movie "Wish" is being touted as a new children's blockbuster to celebrate the company's 100th anniversary. But some Christians may see the portrayal of the villain as God-like and turning wishes into prayers as the ultimate denial of the true message of Christmas.

photo of a kid running out of a church

For the Christmas holiday season?

Joseph Holmes

Christians have always had a love-hate relationship with Disney since I can remember. Growing up in the Christian culture of the 1990s and early 2000s, all the Christian parents I knew loved watching Disney movies with their kids – but have always had an uncomfortable relationship with some of its messages. It was due to the constant Disney tropes of “follow your heart philosophy” and “junior knows best” disdain for authority figures like parents that angered so many. Even so, most Christians felt the benefits had outweighed the costs.

That all seems to have changed as of late, with Disney being hit more and more by claims from conservatives (including Christian conservatives) that Disney is pushing more and more radical progressive social agendas, This has coincided with a steep drop at the box office for Disney.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest