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Although the precise nature of Russia's recent upgrading of its military presence in Syria remains largely opaque to Western eyes, one thing seems clear: Moscow has doubled-down in its support of Bashar Assad and the family-based Assad regime.The Assad regime's atrocities and illegitimacy installed ISIS in Syria and sustain it there.It has been spared the worst, but only because Assad and ISIS have generally preferred assaulting Syrian nationalist rebels instead of each other.Seeing Washington forced into an alliance with Bashar Assad is as good as it gets for Russia, Iran and ISIS.Acting together, Iran and Russia could, if they wished, force their client to stop the bombing and lift the sieges. Facts on the ground suggest, however, that they see utility for Assad in mass slaughter and no reason to confront ISIS unless and until all of the regime's nationalist opponents are first marginalized.Iran and Russia do indeed have it in their power to compel the Assad regime to lift starvation sieges, stop the barrel bombing and release tens of thousands of political prisoners.In the event of an ISIS assault on regime units, Russia and Iran would be free to assist Syrian military units.
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