Experts said that by targeting civilians in Syria to force them out of specific areas, Moscow is seeking to repeat the Chechen scenario, where it forced whole populations out of their areas in the late 1990s after it failed to defeat Chechen rebel fighters by ground forces.
Since 30 September, Russian forces have been providing air cover for the Assad regime forces with the primary aim of tipping the balance on the ground in favor of the Assad regime. Part of Russia’s strategy to that is to open as many battlefronts as possible to pressure rebel fighters and deny them the support they receive from the civilian population.
Russian airstrikes have been focused on liberated areas in the provinces of Idlib, Hama, Homs, Aleppo and the predominantly Turkmen villages and towns in rural Lattakia.
On November 3, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that at least 123,842 people had been forced to flee their homes in Aleppo, Hama and Idlib provinces between October 5 and 30 as a result of Russian airstrikes.
Chechnya’s announcement of its independence after the breakup of former the Soviet Union sparked clashes with Russian government forces between December 1994 and August 1996. Russian ground forces suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Chechen fighters, prompting Russia to agree to a cease-fire. However, the Russian air forces resorted to carpet bomb Chechnya’s cities and towns in 1999, enabling its ground forces to launch a full-scale ground invasion of this autonomous republic.
According to various sources, Russian forces launched around a 1,700 air raids on the Chechen capital Grozny and the surrounding areas alone between late August and late September of 1999. Thousands of Chechen civilians were killed and around 100,000 were forced out of their homes as a result of a 6-month long aerial campaign in which Russia used cluster bombs indiscriminately.
The aim of the Russian attacks against Chechen civilians was to put physical and psychological pressure on the civilian population and force them give up support for the local fighters. But after this strategy failed, Russia chose to displace whole cities and towns. (Source: Anadolu Agency)