At a meeting in Moscow in July, a top Iranian general unfurled a map of Syria to explain to his Russian hosts how a series of defeats for President Bashar al-Assad could be turned into victory - with Russia's help.
Major General Qassem Soleimani's visit to Moscow was the first step in planning for a Russian military intervention that has reshaped the Syrian war and forged a new Iranian-Russian alliance in support of Assad. ...
Three senior officials in the region say Soleimani's July trip was preceded by high-level Russian-Iranian contacts that produced political agreement on the need to pump in new support for Assad as his losses accelerated.
Their accounts suggest planning for the intervention began to germinate several months earlier. It means Tehran and Moscow had been discussing ways to prop up Assad by force even as Western officials were describing what they believed was new flexibility in Moscow's stance on his future.
It looks like we reset both Iran and Russia--exactly the same way.
I'll say it again, I think the best the Russian-Iranian intervention at a higher level can achieve is an Assad-run Core Syria that runs from the northwest down to Damascus and the areas around it.
And I have serious doubts about whether Assad has the manpower to hold Damascus.
But even a Rump Syria in northwest Syria protected by Russia and Iran give Russia and Iran their minimum strategic objectives for Syria.
For Russia, bases on the Mediterranean. And for Iran, overland lines of supply to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Heck, if ISIL runs loose in the rest of Syria, that's just bonus pressure on Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Iraq. And on America and the West of course, if migrants and refugees flee those areas to Europe and if ISIL seeks to carry out terror attacks on the West if they consolidate their hold on territory in Syria (and maybe Iraq).