This is one theory, but there is not a firm conclusion within the Obama administration about why Russian President Vladimir Putin is sending aircraft, tanks and missiles into the wartorn country, several senior USA officials told CNN.
Moscow says Damascus should be included in worldwide efforts to fight Islamic State, a demand the United States and other Western powers reject.
“Providing military support to illegal structures runs counter to the principles of modern global law and the United Nations Charter”, the Russian leader said.
And the Russian leader said he had personally called leading members of the US-led coalition – including Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan and Saudi Arabia’s King Slam to explain to them his vision for an alliance.
Later, a senior State Department official described their talks as a “very thorough exchange of views on both the military and the political implications of Russia’s increased engagement with Syria“.
In New York security is on red alert this week, with half of midtown Manhattan shut down, and the United Nations is nose to tail with black limousines bearing world leaders and dignitaries who will deliver the General Assembly’s annual opening speeches.
“There is no other way to settle the Syrian conflict other than by strengthening the existing legitimate government agencies, support them in their fight against terrorism”, Putin said.
A US-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes against IS in Syria and Iraq for more than a year.
Syria has been torn apart by the civil war, which started as an uprising against Mr Assad’s government and involves rebel groups as well as Islamic State.
“We are trying to establish some kind of coordinated framework”, Putin said in the interview with CBS television.
For now, the immediate result of the latest diplomatic drive will be to mark “the beginning of the end” of US and European attempts to isolate Russian Federation, said Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington.
But he can’t be part of Syria’s long-term future.
“That is not a problem for us right now, to start holding discussions and dialogues so as to determine and reach the conclusion of the next plan of action after the terrorists are driven out that territory”, Mr Rouhani said.
“In this case, we are dealing with the request of the Syrian government for the provision of military and technical assistance”.
One reason for the shift is that Mr Putin has stepped up his support for Mr Assad, moving troops and weapons into Syria, which have reportedly made their first bombing raids against IS targets. “But in reality Assad’s army is fighting against terrorist organisations”. Contact between Putin and Obama has been rare since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis.
He said: “It turns out that only 60 of these fighters have been properly trained, and as few as four or five people actually carry weapons”.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, however, said the efforts were “not yet co-ordinated” and the USA had “concerns about how we are going to go forward”.