Since Turkey yesterday shot down a Russian warplane it said had entered Turkish airspace — something Moscow denied — the world has anxiously wondered and waited to see how Vladimir Putin will respond. The incident was one of the most serious publicly acknowledged altercations in half a century between Russia and a NATO member country. Putin promised “serious consequences” for what he deemed “a stab in the back by the terrorists’ accomplices.”
Many of us couldn’t help but wonder if this was the Franz Ferdinand moment sparking the next World War.
Today, we’re seeing what Putin may mean by consequences, as Russian forces launch a ramped-up bombardment in the area.
Russian forces launched a heavy bombardment against insurgent-held areas in Syria’s Latakia province on Wednesday, near where a Russian warplane had been shot down by Turkey the day before, rebels and a monitoring group said.
At least 12 air strikes hit Latakia’s northern countryside as pro-government forces clashed with fighters from al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and Turkmen insurgents in the Jabal Akrad and Jabal Turkman areas, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
A Turkmen commander said missiles fired from Russian warships in the Mediterranean were also hitting the area, as well as heavy artillery shelling.
Hassan Haj Ali, the head of Liwa Suqour al-Jabal, a rebel group operating in western Syria, also said there were fierce battles in the area, with Russian aircraft supporting pro-government forces.
A Turkish military source said Turkish troops on the border were on alert on Wednesday after the bombardment began.
Many fear this may only be the beginning of much more widespread conflict; as one indication of how widespread this worry is, “WWIII” has been trending on Twitter following Putin’s strong words on yesterday’s incident.
Our own Col. West has an excellent assessment of the situation — how we may be on the verge of World War IV, actually — which you can read here. The geopolitical landscape is more complex than ever, and Col. West explains who the players are in what may be an emerging global conflict — and, importantly, what we should do.
Somehow, I have a feeling this is only the beginning, though I would certainly love to be wrong.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]