Muhammad Ali Baig
WHY and who killed Russian Army Lt Gen Valery Asapov? Who are the possible beneficiaries of Asapov’s death? Who provided IS (Daesh) fighters the necessary intelligence about Asapov’s precise whereabouts? How Gen Gerasimov and Lt Gen Asapov asserted Russia in Syria? There is no doubt that Russian Military Forces have successfully asserted their selves in Syria and have achieved dominance over the Allies. It can be argued that Russian Military Forces have successfully challenged US Military in a conventional limited war scenario. However, a few argue that the Syrian Civil War is an asymmetric and an irregular warfare scenario. Nevertheless, US Military could not execute its signature doctrine ‘Shock and Awe – Rapid Dominance’ to affect the will, perceptions and psychological settings of the Russians and Syrians.
On September 23, 2017 Daesh fighters started mortar shelling and launched a surprise attack on Syrian Military’s field command post near Deir ez-Zor. It was beyond everybody’s belief that Lt General Valery Asapov of Russian Army got killed in the attack. Lt Gen Asapov wiped out Daesh fighters while guided Syrian Army and became a stumbling block in Daesh’s way. Americans were pretty much annoyed over Russian and Syrian gains and wanted to inflict damage over Russians. It was Americans who leaked the intelligence about Lt Gen Asapov’s precise location to Daesh fighters so that they can eliminate him while having their hands clean. Asapov was a part of the Russian Military deployment in Syria on the request of President Bashar Al Assad that he made in 2015.
US strategic and operational weaknesses led it to rely on its historical use of mercenaries and saboteurs. It is a matter of great concern that Julian Assange’s Wiki-Leaks revealed some horrifying and shocking official correspondences and memoranda regarding the role of U.S. in creating an armed resistance against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Hillary Clinton as the U.S. Secretary of State administered the creation of Free Syrian Army, created and armed Al-Nusra Front and provided vital information and weapons to Daesh. It is believed by many analysts that many battle-hardened prisoners from the notorious Guantanamo Bay Prison were secretly made part of these armed groups.
Russia deployed its flagship and state of the art S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) anti-air missile system in Syria in the aftermath of the shooting down of its Su-24 fighter bomber in November 2015 by Turkey. S-400 has completely petrified the U.S.-led Allied Forces in Syria and Russia achieved complete operational and strategic superiority over its Western rivals. The deployment of S-400 Missile System gave a clear message to the West about Russian determination in saving and safeguarding the Assad Regime in Syria. Before that, American Forces caused huge damage to Syrian and Russian war efforts quite deliberately on a number of occasions. On September 17, 2016 U.S. Military launched an aerial strike on Syrian Arab Army while killing 62 soldiers, injuring dozens and destroying many military vehicles and tanks – did another damage that it provided a safe passage to Daesh fighters which were surrounded by Russian and Syrian Forces.
Russia armed the Syrian Arab Army with its latest T-90 Main Battle Tanks. During the Battle of Aleppo, a T-90 belonging to Syria was targeted by US-made BGM-71 TOW Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) – ostensibly operated by Daesh, Free Syrian Army or Al-Nusra Front. This encounter brought humiliation for the American Military Industrial Complex – Raytheon – since the TOW missile could not destroy T-90 tank and the crew remained safe. Now, the question arises that how the rebels or terrorists acquired the advanced TOW ATGM? The answer is clear yet shocking. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov out-negotiated his American counterpart John Kerry on a number of o ccasions while discussing Syria. Kerry threatened to execute its ‘Plan-B’ in case the deadlock persists on Syria; however, Russian better strategy flanked by superior tactics prevented the United States from executing such a foolish and unrealistic plan to divide Syria into two or three independent states.
It is an open secret that Lt Gen Asapov’s death was a well calculated and well executed military plan and US Military is the main beneficiary of his death. Daesh fighters were given a clear path and perhaps guidelines by the US Military to takeout one of the most important operational commanders of Russian Army in Syria. His death resembles British Special Air Services’ (SAS) deliberate effort to hunt down German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in the Northern Africa. Rommel single-handedly out-manoeuvred British and Allied Forces in its North Africa Campaign. Had Hitler not attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941 – Rommel would have taken Suez Canal from the British. Perhaps, it is a part and parcel of the American and British military culture to try and assassinate their rivals especially the military leaders whom they cannot defeat on the battlefield otherwise.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.