These Syrian Rebel Leaders Have A Warning For Russia

The rebels say the Russians will be defeated like they were 25 years ago in Afghanistan

Oct 23, 2015 at 12:45 PM ET

The Russian intervention in Syria has led to numerous comparisons with the failed 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Russia began conducting daily airstrikes in Syria on September 30, 2015. The Russian Defense Ministry claims to be targeting ISIS, but the majority of targets appear to be the Syrian rebels fighting both ISIS and the Assad regime.

“There is no difference,” says Abo Hamza, a commander of the Free Syrian rebels in Aleppo. “The Russian interference in every country is the same. The Russian regime is repressive and dictatorial, and works against any revolution which is against the other dictatorships they support.”

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The Syrian conflict, however, presents a much different scenario for the Russians. In Afghanistan, the mountainous terrain and well-equipped Mujahideen fighters made it impossible for Soviet forces to make strategic gains. They withdrew after 9 years and more than a million lives lost.

The aftermath of the failed Soviet invasion is still evident in the Panjshir Valley of north-central Afghanistan. During a recent visit, Ahmed Shah, a former Mujahideen showed us the countryside, which remains, 25 years later, a graveyard for the Soviet tanks and planes that met their end in the Valley. “They tried to attack Panjshir Valley seven times,” he said. “And each time they failed, they sent more weaponry.”

The rebels in Syria acknowledge that the Russian intervention presents a huge challenge for them, but they remain optimistic. “We are steadfast,” says Colonel Ahmad Eissa.” We will defeat the Russian intervention…This is not a normal war. This is a revolution of the people.”