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What Is Russia's Endgame In Syria?

Russia's engagement in Syria can be divided into roughly two phases-- (a) Playing the role of a mediator (2011-2015) and (b) Engaging in direct overt action (2015 onwards). Moscow, since the beginning of the conflict, has been critical of the US position regarding Bashar al-Assad and has opposed almost every US-backed initiative in Syria. For Russia, Syria is its strongest Middle Eastern ally and losing is just not feasible.