Russian troops in Syria could end up helping Isis, report claims.

The deployment of Russian troops in Syria could end up helping Islamic State as they have been sent to areas where they are most likely to fight other groups opposed to Isis, according to a new report.

The Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) report comes ahead of a US-Russian summit meeting at the UN on Monday, when Barack Obama will question Vladimir Putin on the intention behind Russia’s deepening military involvement in Syria, according to US officials.

The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani – also in New York for the UN general assembly meeting – rejected suggestions that his country was operating in concert with Russia against Isis. “I do not see a coalition between Iran and Russia on fighting terrorism in Syria,” Rouhani said.

The Rusi report, titled Inherently Unresolved, assesses the global effort to counter the spread of Isis, and warns that Iraq and Syria may not survive as unitary states. It includes a section on Russian aims, particularly those underpinning Putin’s despatch this month of warplanes and troops to Tartus and Latakia in support of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Igor Sutyagin, a Russian strategic analyst, said there was an air regiment at Latakia with 28 planes, a battalion of motorised infantry and military engineers as well as a marine battalion at the naval base in Tartus.

The deployment, Sutyagin said, “underlines the contradictions of the Kremlin’s policy”, because the troops were in areas where Isis is not present.

“In this way, Russian troops are backing Assad in the fight against groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, which are themselves opposed to Isis. If Russian troops do eventually join combat, therefore, they would also – technically – be assisting Isis,” Sutyagin argued.

Satellite image from last week shows Russian aircraft and ground vehicles at air base in Latakia, Syria

The report says the Russian deployment should not therefore be seen as a change of policy towards fighting Isis directly, but a largely political move designed to save Assad and consolidate Russia’s hold over its naval base at Tartus and its newly built air base in Latakia, while currying favour with the west and the Gulf Arab states who are themselves reluctant to fight Isis on the ground.

“Indeed, the Kremlin may well be hoping that the west will show its appreciation by lifting the sanctions imposed in response to the situation in Ukraine,” Sutyagin said.

The tensions hanging over the Obama-Putin meeting on Monday were highlighted by discord between Washington and Moscow in describing the summit. US officials said it had been requested by Putin. A Russian spokesman insisted it was Obama who asked to meet. The White House said the meeting would address both the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. The Kremlin said Ukraine would only be raised “if there was time”.

Celeste Wallander, the White House National Security Council’s senior director for Russia, said that Obama would press Putin on his objectives in Syria. Putin meanwhile told CBS News: “There is no other solution to the Syrian crisis than strengthening the effective government structures and rendering them help in fighting terrorism. But at the same time, urging them to engage in positive dialogue with the rational opposition and conduct reform.”

The White House argues that the Russian strategy of entrenching Assad will only serve to deepen the roots of extremism in Syria. Ben Rhodes, a White House spokesman, said that at the UN meeting “the president will have the opportunity to make clear to President Putin that we share the determination to counter Isil [Isis], that we welcome constructive contributions to counter Isil. But at the same time, we believe that one of the principal motivating factors for people who are fighting with Isil is the Assad regime.”

The Rusi report said that it would be “perfectly feasible” to defeat Isis if Turkey and Iran were also engaged in the search for a regional solution. It advised US policymakers to “not give up on the possibility of maintaining the unity of Iraq and Syria, but not be beholden or obsessed with this idea either”.

“If the US could ‘father’ two brand-new states in the Balkans during the 1990s, there is no reason why Washington should not tolerate at least the informal emergence of new states in the Middle East,” the report argued.

 

Russia preparing airstrikes on Isil if US does not back deal to keep Assad in office.

Russia sends dozens of fighter jets and helicopter gunships to Syria amid growing signs that Western leaders may support plan to allow Bashar al-Assad to remain in power in the country

An Mi-8 helicopter participates in Russian strategic military exercises last week

An Mi-8 helicopter participates in Russian strategic military exercises last week  Photo: Barcroft Media

Vladimir Putin is preparing to attack Isil in Syria amid growing signs that Western leaders may support a Russian plan to allow Bashar al-Assad to remain in power in the country.

Russia has sent dozens of fighter jets and helicopter gunships to Syria as he steps up his support for Assad, the country’s president, in the fight against Isil jihadists.

Mr Putin is understood to have told America that he is prepared to authorise unilateral Russian air strikes on Isil targets if the US does not back his plans to take on the jihadists while allowing Assad to remain in power.

Putin and Assad meeting in Moscow, 2005Putin and Assad meeting in Moscow, 2005

There have been growing signs that Western leaders are now softening their opposition to Assad remaining in power.

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, said on Thursday: “We have to speak with many actors. This includes Assad, but others as well.

“Not only with the United States of America, Russia, but with important regional partners, Iran, and Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia.”

And Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President, who has been a fierce critic of Assad, on Thurday suggested for the first time that the Syrian president could have a role to play in a future political transition.

“The process could possibly be without Assad, or the transitional process could be with him,” he said.

Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, and John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, have suggested that Assad must step down but that there could be a transitional period during which he remains in power.

However, there was also concern amongst European leaders about Russia’s decision to increase its military presence in Syria.

Mr Putin has drafted a request for the Russian upper house of parliament to approve the deployment of 2,000 air personnel to Syria, but has yet to formally submit it, according to Bloomberg, citing anonymous sources.

Mr Putin’s spokesman denied the claim.

Michael Fallon, Britain’s Defence Secretary, said that the “Russian build-up in Syria only complicates an already complicated and difficult situation”.

And Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French Defence Minister, called on Moscow to justify a “very significant” buildup in Syria and said if its intention was “to protect” Mr Assad, it should say so.

Russia’s increasing involvement in Syria is likely to dominate next week’s session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where Mr Putin is scheduled to meet Barack Obama on Monday.

Obama meets with Putin during the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland, 2013Obama meets with Putin during the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland, 2013

“It would be irresponsible not to test whether we can make progress through high-level engagement,” a US official told AFP.

Russia has called on Western and Middle Eastern countries to form a broad anti-Isil coalition including Mr Assad’s government, arguing that Syrian government forces are the only ones capable of combatting terrorists on the battlefield.

Mr Putin is a staunch ally of Mr Assad and has supplied him with weapons and military advice throughout the four-year civil war.

But a recent increase in Russian activity in Syria, including reported deployment of drones and combat aircraft to an airbase near the government stronghold of Latakia, has prompted speculation that Russia is preparing to intervene on the regime’s side in the conflict.

The developments have raised concerns about the dangers of uncoordinated operations by both Russian forces and the Nato-led coalition currently prosecuting a campaign against Islamic State.

Earlier this week Mr Putin met with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to agree to a coordination mechanism to avoid clashes between Russian troops in Syria and Israeli forces.

The Russian defence ministry said the naval exercises announced on Thursday had been planned since the end of 2014, and described them as part of the “traditional” autumn exercises carried out by the Russian armed forces.

The rocket cruise Moskva, destroyer Smetlivy, and the landing craft Saratov are amongst the vessels slated to take part in exercises in September and October, the ministry said in a statement.

The Moskva guided missile cruiserThe Moskva guided missile cruiser

Several of the vessels, most of which serve with Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, have already been deployed to the area. The Smetlivy was seen passing through the Bosporus last week.

Russia to Start Bombing in Syria ASAP 

Russia to Start Bombing in Syria ASAP: Stop! Our 500 Million Dollar 5 Militants are in there!!! Probably be the first to go.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the MAKS-2015, the International Aviation and Space Show, in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, on August 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV        (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
The Kremlin’s jets have landed in Syria. The drones are flying. And now, Russian combat forces are on the cusp of fighting to save what’s left of the Damascus regime from ISIS.
Russian combat operations on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are likely to begin “soon,” three U.S. officials told The Daily Beast. And Russian drone flights to spot targets for potential airstrikes are already underway.That concession by U.S. officials of growing Russian influence marks a shift from previous statements by officials who said they weren’t sure whether Russia intended to use force in Syria and enter into the country’s long and brutal civil war. There already are early signs that Russia plans to target moderate forces that threaten the Assad regime, not the self-proclaimed Islamic State, which has been the focus of a year-long U.S.-led air campaign.

And yet, the recent Russian moves, which threaten to undermine U.S.-led efforts over the last year, were met with hardly a shrug in some circles in Washington.

“There are not discussions happening here about what this means for U.S. influence on the war against ISIS,” one defense official told The Daily Beast.

That’s despite the fact that some unverified online videos indicate that the opening phases of such operations may have already begun.

A video posted September 15 to YouTube appears to show Russian military forces in tanks alongside Syrian forces in the Lattakia region, a traditional Assad stronghold that has come under threat from anti-regime forces.

Since last Friday, Moscow has sent two dozen additional fighter jets to Syria, bringing the total number in the country to 28. The same day, Defense Secretary Ash Carter spoke by phone to his Russian counterpart about what the Pentagon called “mechanisms for deconfliction,” a strong indication that Russia intended to conduct airstrikes in the same areas that U.S. forces and their coalition partners are now operating against ISIS.

After more than a year of U.S.-led airstrikes, the political and military situation in Syria appears to have reached a critical turning point, American officials and experts said. The U.S. campaign is effectively at a stalemate, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said. In recent weeks, as Assad lost ground and the Obama administration’s Syria policy came under withering criticism for failing to train and equip any significant rebel force, the Russians began moving military equipment, supplies, and troops into Syria.

The massing of Russian force would seem to add a new and potentially volatile element to the chaotic war, with the U.S. struggling to find allies on the ground or blunt the spread of ISIS, and U.S. military analysts accusing their senior officers of distorting intelligence to paint a rosier picture of the military situation.

U.S. officials said publicly they were concerned and keeping a channel of communication open to Moscow.

But privately, many seemed to welcome a Russian intervention if it alleviated the burden on the U.S. for fighting ISIS, even if that meant diminished American influence over how the war ends. Intervening on behalf of an ally bring its own challenges, they note.

The Russians “are going to inherit Assad’s mess,” a second defense official said. “I don’t know if they have looked at it from all possible angles.”

“Watching the Russians take the initiative is the most clear example yet of the complete abdication of U.S. leadership and responsibility in the region,” Christopher Harmer, a naval analyst at the Washington D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War, told The Daily Beast.

Privately, many seemed to welcome a Russian intervention in Syria. “There are some here who think the Russians could find themselves in another Afghanistan,” one U.S. official said.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, asked by reporters if the U.S. had any insights into Moscow’s endgame, replied, “To be blunt about it, no.”

State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday that the U.S. “concerns remain in place” about growing Russian moves in Syria.

Carter has not said a word about what many are calling an “inflection point” in Syria. On Monday afternoon, he held a Lean In event at the Pentagon with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, encouraging women in the military to support each other through small groups. Over the weekend, Secretary of State John Kerry repeated the Obama administration’s position that Assad must step down in order to forge a political settlement, but he remained open to postponing that departure to some unspecified date. Kerry has spoken with his Russian counterpart three times in the past week.

Lock and Load: NATO Deploys Fully Armed Eurofighters to Russian Borders | Veterans Today

NATO is unambiguously sending a belligerent signal to Russia

First published  …  September 20, 2015,  Sputnik NewsSputnik

NATO continues its military buildup in close vicinity to Russia: for the first time since the inception of the Ukrainian crisis, German Eurofighters are set to patrol the Baltic Airspace with full ammunition.

U.S soldiers walk next to a Patriot missile defence battery during joint exercises at the military grounds in Sochaczew, near Warsaw.

The NATO Baltic air-policing mission has been carried out by its member states since 2004, when Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania acceded to the military bloc.

In contrast with September – December 2014, the aircraft will carry enough ammo for a real fight: a gun, infrared short-range missiles, radar-guided medium-range missiles and an electronic defense system with decoys that are ejected at a threat.

Why did NATO decide to deploy fully armed military planes to the area? Commenting on the jets’ increased combat capabilities, German Air Force inspector Karl Müllner told Deutsche Presse Agentur:

“This is not a tool for escalation. It is just a tool to be on par [with a potential enemy]. And this is a tool to motivate the soldiers engaged in the activity [of air policing]”.

However, there is no need for a rocket scientist to read between the lines: NATO is unambiguously sending a belligerent signal to Russia.

NATO

It is another, albeit minor, step in expanding the alliance’s military presence in Eastern Europe. For years, NATO has been creeping towards Russia citing all kinds of phantom reasons: the Iran nuclear threat, Crimea’s referendum, the Ukrainian conflict etc.

In addition to that, the three “vulnerable” Baltic States have been restlessly and hysterically exploiting the myth of an “evil Russia,” setting a convenient pretext for NATO to boost its military in the region.

Earlier in August, German journalists obtained a document that instructed the German Army to accumulate weapons, as “deterrence may become important again” in view of – guess what – the imaginary “Russian threat”, of course.

However, the Germans might be a little too late with their desire to show how committed they are to the idea of countering Russia. The Syrian crisis and a common enemy in the form of ISIL may bring Washington and Moscow together and help alleviate tensions – meaning Berlin will have to back down.

But the bloc’s long-term strategy is unlikely to change despite the promising Moscow-Washington thaw: the Ukrainian crisis, the latest meteorite crash, the extinction of the dinosaurs and other pretexts will still be used to accuse Russia of threatening the global security and stigmatize it as the arch enemy.

The Arch enemy is not Russia. It is by far the Islamic Cult. Muslims, Islam, Islamic State, Isil, Daesh, Isis, Call it whatever you want. What it boils down to are the Muslims and their inability to live in peace with anybody. Even their own families! At some point the World must choose what evil they want and what evil must go. I don’t see ant Nazi’s running around. I would say together we ended their parade. It’s time the Islamic parade of Rape, Massacre, Arrogance, Ignorance, and Torture is put to rest. Forever! – ISLAMACIDE

US airstrikes ineffective, genuinely committed anti-terrorist coalition required – Syrian FM to RT

© Maxim Zmeyev
US airstrikes in Syria are ineffective as long as Washington fails to coordinate its actions with those battling terrorists on the ground, Syrian FM Walid Muallem told RT, adding that Damascus fully supports the idea of a coalition genuinely committed to the cause.

The international community could have prevented much of the bloodshed in Syria by moving beyond empty declarations and sincerely respecting the obligations to fight terrorism, Walid Muallem told RT Arabic in an exclusive interview.

“We want to ask the international community…what have you done to fulfill the UN Security Council resolutions adopted in accordance with Chapter 7 [of the UN Charter]?” Muallem said. “Did neighboring countries implement the Security Council resolutions on fighting terrorism? Not a single one.”

Russia has long insisted on the creation of an international anti-terrorist coalition that would coordinate its efforts with the Syrian army battling the radical Islamist forces on the ground. Muallem says Damascus fully supports such an initiative.

“We declare that we are ready to coordinate our actions with any country in the world, which sincerely wished to fight terrorism in practice,” Muallem stated, adding that scrapping any support to terrorist groups would be essential proof of sincerity.

Muallem also commented on the information campaigns presenting the ongoing Russian-Syrian cooperation as some kind of growing threat or something illegal.

“Moscow is acting within the framework of international law, respecting the sovereignty of our country and in coordination with Syria,” he said. “We do not hide anything under the table … We regard Russia as our friend and strategic ally which is honest in its actions.”

US and Russia hold Syria talks as Moscow hints at combat role against ISIS.

 

An Airbus Defence and Space satellite image courtesy of Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence and advisory firm in Austin, Texas, shows the air base at Latakia, Syria on September 15, 2015. U.S. officials said on Wednesday the United States had identified a small number of Russian helicopters at a Syrian airfield, the latest addition to what Washington believes is a significant Russian military buildup in the country. Russia has been sending about two military cargo flights a day to an air base at Latakia on the government-controlled Syrian coast, U.S. officials say. REUTERS/www.Stratfor.com/Airbus Defense and Space/Handout

A satellite image shows the air base at Latakia where the US had identified a small number of Russian helicopters

US secretary of state John Kerry said on Saturday that the US was prepared to negotiate the timing and conditions for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down from power.

Speaking in London, Mr Kerry repeated the US position that Mr Assad needed to step down as part of any effort to bring the country’s civil war to an end, but he indicated greater US flexibility about the way that the Syrian leader might leave office.

Mr Kerry also called on Iran and Russia, which has significantly stepped up its military presence in Syria in recent weeks, to push Mr Assad to the negotiating table.

“We’ve said for some period of time that it doesn’t have to be on day one or month one or whatever,” he said. “We’re not being doctrinaire about the specific date or time. But right now, Assad has refused to have a serious discussion.”

He added: “Is Assad prepared to negotiate? Really negotiate? Is Russia prepared to bring him to the table and actually find the solution to this violence?”
His comments came after Ashton Carter, US secretary of defence, held direct talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on Friday to discuss the war in Syria, amid mounting concern in the west over Russia’s growing military support for the Assad regime.
The talks started as Moscow indicated it could send combat troops to Syria to support the Syrian military.
The flurry of communications and diplomatic messaging follows a sharp build-up of Russian military presence in Syria in recent weeks that has put the Obama administration on the back foot at a time when its own strategy in Syria is coming under renewed criticism.
However, amid the uncertainty over Russia’s plans in Syria there is also the possibility that Moscow’s increased intervention could also open space for an international effort at finding a political settlement to the four year-old civil war.

The Friday phone call with Mr Shoigu was the first time Mr Carter had spoken to the Russian defence minister since he assumed office in March and ended a long period of almost no communication between the two militaries as the result of the conflict in Ukraine.

The Pentagon said the two ministers talked about ways to “deconflict” their respective operations in Syria, including the risk that planes from both countries could be flying in close proximity, and that both nations were focused on defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the jihadi group known as Isis.

Coalition frets over lack of progress in fight against Isis

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters pose fo...Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters pose for a photo next to a military vehicle bearing the Kurdish flag after they reportedly captured several villages from Islamic State (IS) group jihadistst in the district of Daquq, south of the northern city of Kirkuk on September 11, 2015. An Iraqi officer said that the operation was launched in the morning with support from international coalition aircraft, and has succeeded in retaking ten villages from IS. AFP PHOTO / MARWAN IBRAHIMMARWAN IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images

Slow progress raises doubts about the timeframe of what the US said would be a ‘multiyear’ campaign

The Kremlin said on Friday that Russia was prepared to consider supporting the Assad regime with troops in combat if the Syrian government asked for that, in the clearest indication so far that it is prepared to step up its military involvement in the Syrian conflict.

“If such a request comes, then it will, in the framework of our bilateral contacts and our bilateral dialogue, naturally be discussed and looked at,” said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman of President Vladimir Putin.

He was commenting on remarks by Syria’s foreign minister, Walid Muallem, that Damascus would request Russian troops to fight alongside the Syrian army if the need arose.

In an interview with Syrian television on Thursday, Mr Muallem said there were no Russian combat troops in Syria at the moment but confirmed that Russia had “escalated the pace of supplies to our army with weapons and ammunition”.
According to US military officials, however, Russia has significantly ramped up its presence of both support and combat troops in Syria in the past few days. The Pentagon estimates Russia to have troop numbers in the “high hundreds” or “low thousands” in the country. Analysts say they appear to be deployed primarily for defensive purposes so far.

In depth

Syria crisis

An increasingly complicated armed conflict is pitting rebel groups not only against the regime and its allies, but also against each other

Russia has long co-operated militarily with the Assad regime, supplying arms and experts who help with installation and training. It also has a radio-electronic listening post to gather intelligence on the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean. The Kremlin insists that Russian soldiers now in Syria continue to be advisers linked to arms supplies.

But satellite pictures, Syrian battle footage and Russian social media posts as well as US intelligence suggest that Moscow has been drastically stepping up those supplies since late August and could be preparing for more.
In the latest sign of increased Russian involvement, a US official said, Russian fighter jets had been observed in recent days at the airfield in western Syria near Latakia where the Pentagon believes Moscow is developing a forward-operating air base.
Dmitri Trenin, head of the Moscow Carnegie Center, said that while Russia had no intention of deploying ground combat forces to Syria, it might consider sending pilots and flying air attacks.

The Russian government presents its increased military involvement as part of an effort to build a broad coalition against Isis. Despite its denials of combat forces on the ground, the Kremlin has been much less secretive about Syria than its involvement in the Ukraine war.
But as the US launches air attacks as part of its own coalition against Isis, military experts fear a separate Russian involvement could lead to dangerous incidents, especially as western governments doubt whether Moscow, in a potential air campaign, might target opposition forces other than Isis which are also fighting Mr Assad’s army.
On Friday, two Russian news outlets reported that contract soldiers from the eastern military district were being sent to Syria on secret missions, and some were refusing to go after finding out about their destination.

Mr Peskov said the Kremlin was not aware of this. The military district command denied that some of its servicemen were being sent to Syria.

Syria air strikes not a long term fix

Smoke rises over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the town of Suruc in this file October 18, 2014 file photo.  A U.S.-led military coalition has been bombing Islamic State fighters who hold a large swathe of territory in both Iraq and Syria, two countries involved in complex multi-sided civil wars in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake. The Turkish military and police had declared the Turkish-Syrian border area a "military zone", which limits the ability of the press to move around.  In these days of modern warfare, the weaponry is more powerful than that in the old days. So all of my colleagues and I have to be doubly careful to ensure we do not end up in the line of fire, as positions of Kurdish YPG fighters and IS militants change quickly.  For all those reasons, to stay away is the only solution at the moment.  We ended up on hills about 2km (1.24 miles) away from Kobani using very long telephoto lenses, often more than 1000mm, to get a peek into the city while listening to the sound of war and smelling its scent.   Sometimes you see a shadow of a fighter hiding behind a building and more often you see the massive impact of heavy airstrikes.  It is a bit strange sitting there with lenses I usually use for sports photography alongside people from the area, who come to the hills to see what's going on.  They bring binoculars and make tea - making it almost seems like a tourist attraction. - Kai Pfaffenbach       REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (TURKEY - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ATTENTION EDITORS: THIS PICTURE IS PART OF THE PACKAGE 'PICTURES OF THE YEAR 2014 - THE PHOTOGRAPHERS' STORY'. SEARCH 'PHOTOGRAPHERS' STORY' FOR ALL IMAGES' - RTR4FOX1

Dropping bombs on Syria to protect Iraq will not be enough in the long term to help the troubled region, Labor says.

The opposition believes international efforts need to focus on reaching a political solution to ultimately remove the Assad regime in Syria, as well as stepping up humanitarian help in the short term.

The millions of people displaced from Syria need protecting from the Assad government as well as terrorist organisations like Islamic State, Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said.

‘There’s Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the US and its allies that all need to come to the table as part of developing a solution for Syria,’ she told ABC TV on Sunday.

She also called for Middle Eastern countries, particularly Arab League nations, to do more to help people fleeing Syria.

The federal government says years-long talks about the political situation in Syria are continuing but the immediate focus has to be on stopping terrorist organisation Islamic State.

A report in The Australian newspaper last week said Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had developed a strategy to remove Assad, which they will discuss with their US counterparts during a UN summit in three weeks.

‘There is still a significant question mark over the Assad regime and what happens there,’ Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told Sky News on Sunday.

‘Everybody I have spoken to wants to see political stability, reconstruction take place, so that people can return to their country of origin.’

While he respected the views of people who attended rallies on Saturday opposing the air strikes on Syria, he vehemently disagreed with them.

He said the reach of IS was growing and advice the government’s national security committee had was that people involved in it were all significant threats to Australia.