The Fallout of Russia’s Syria Campaign in the North Caucasus

Publication Title: The Fallout of Russia’s Syria Campaign in the North Caucasus
Author: Sebastian Maier
Date of Publication: 1st of June, 2016.

The latest news coverage on war-torn Syria has been overwhelmingly dominated by the strong symbolic message sent by the Damascene regime by gaining ground against Islamic State as it recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra in the Syrian desert at the end of March 2016. At the same time, but largely unnoticed by the international media, Islamic State’s Caucasus governorate, proclaimed in summer 2015, claimed a terror attack on Monday March 28 that killed a local Russian police officer and left several others wounded in the republic of Dagestan, located in the North Caucasus region. The timing of the two events is particularly delicate, highlighting the ramifications of Russia’s involvement ever since it openly embarked on its blitz campaign in September 2015 in an unprecedented effort to turn the tide in favor of the al-Assad loyalist camp. First and foremost, it was the continuous raids by the Russian Air Force that ushered in the liberation of Palmyra, revealing the overrated significance of the reduction in the Russian military in Syria. Therefore, the Dagestan roadside bombing was likely a manifestation of Islamic State’s lethal inventory, still capable of sending a bold retaliatory message to Moscow, and it potentially heralds more attacks of its kind in the near future.