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Two recent tragedies – the downing of a Russian civilian airliner over the Sinai Peninsula and the terrorist massacre in Paris two weeks later – seemed to give Russia and the West something to agree upon: ISIS must go. But a closer look at Russia's military operations in Syria – not to mention Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane last week – suggests that it would be premature to conclude that Russian and Western objectives can be brought into alignment.According to the U.S. State Department, more than 90 percent of Russian airstrikes so far have been directed not at ISIS or the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, but at the armed groups that are fighting both ISIS and Russia's ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.If domestic resistance succeeds in driving Russia out of Syria, as happened to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and to Russia in the first Chechen war, Putin could face trouble at home.All that is certain now is that, whatever happens in Syria, it will not happen without Russia.
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