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With Russia entering the fold, where is the Syrian crisis headed?

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Vladimir Putin
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By Harshmeet Singh

The ongoing Syrian crisis is bringing together two of the most unexpected nations at a single stage, the USA and Russia. While the USA led alliance has been carrying out airstrikes in the IS (Islamic State) captured areas for quite a while, Russia’s entry into the Syrian crisis couldn’t have come any sooner.

Though the recent air strikes carried out by Russia in Syria surprised quite a few, it must be understood that Russia has always had a keen eye on Syria. To put things into perspective, Syria’s Tartus holds the only naval base of Russia outside the countries that formed the Soviet Union. Russia was one of the few countries that supported the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad during the deadly civil war in the country. It even used all its force to shoot down a proposal in the UNSC which was seeking to remove Assad from the Presidency. Over the past few years of the Syrian unrest, Russia has been continuously offering financial and military help to the Syrian administration, without getting directly involved in the domestic upheaval.

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

But with Russia now sending its troops to Syria, the earlier dynamics seem to have changed. Experts are of the view that Mr. Putin is trying to increase the stature of Russia at the world stage and bring back its old glory. But with the Russian troops short of real war experience for many decades, this move can easily backfire. While at the outset it may seem that both the US and Russia are throwing their weight in Syria to bring back normalcy, the fact remains that US is as big a critic of the Assad regime as big a supporter Assad has in the form of Russia.

Russia’s increased participation in Syria has also invited sharp reactions from many other countries. The US led coalition, for instance, which also includes Turkey, has asked Russia to put an end to its air strikes, alleging that the Russian planes are targeting innocent civilians and that it would “only fuel more extremism”. Russia, on the other hand, says that it is exclusively targeting IS sites. These strikes were Russia’s first active military operation outside the states of former Soviet Union, ever since the cold war ended in 1991.

Several meetings were held between the Russia officials and the leaders of the US led coalition on the sidelines of the 70th United Nations General Assembly. Giving minimal attention to the concerns of the US led coalition, a senior official from the Russian ranks said that the air strikes would continue for another 3-4 months. There is another ongoing conspiracy theory behind the scenes, according to which the Russian planes are exclusively targeting the Syrian rebels who are being supported by the US led alliance to overthrow the Assad regime. Whatever the actual dynamics of the situation be, this habit of world powers of battling against each other at a battleground of the third country only brings destruction to innocent people.

 

The author is a Freelance writer. This piece was exclusively written for NewsGram.

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Microblogging Site Twitter Releases Tweets Linked to Russia, Iran

"We may also release incremental additions to existing datasets if we believe the additional information could materially impact research findings," Twitter said

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Twitter
Twitter releases data linked to Russian, Iranian info campaigns. Pixabay

With the goal of improving understanding of how foreign influence campings operate on Twitter, the microblogging site has now released massive datasets of accounts linked to potential influence campaigns originating in Russia and Iran.

These large datasets released this week comprise 3,841 accounts affiliated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA), originating in Russia, and 770 other accounts, potentially originating in Iran.

Totalling over 360 gigabytes – including more than 10 million Tweets and more than 2 million images, GIFs, videos, and Periscope broadcasts ?the data store provides a picture of how state-sponsored agencies have used the Twitter platform, technology news website Ars Technica reported on Friday.

IRA allegedly ran information campaigns on several social media platforms to undermine the political process in the 2016 US presidential election.

TWitter
The logo for Twitter is displayed above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. vOA

With Twitter coming under scrutiny for its failure to stop the spread of misinformation during the election, the microblogging site, earlier this year, committed to the US Congress and the public to provide regular updates and information regarding its investigation into foreign interference in political conversations on Twitter.

Since that time, Twitter has shared examples of these types of content posted on Twitter by IRA and provided the public with a direct notice if they interacted with these accounts.

In August this year, Twitter also disclosed details of another attempted influence campaign it identified as potentially located within Iran.

The datasets released this week are aimed at enabling independent academic research and investigation into the nature of foreign influence campaigns, Twitter said.

Twitter
Twitter on a smartphone device. Pixabay

“We are committed to understanding how bad-faith actors use our services. We will continue to proactively combat nefarious attempts to undermine the integrity of Twitter, while partnering with civil society, government, our industry peers, and researchers to improve our collective understanding of coordinated attempts to interfere in the public conversation,” Twitter said.

A preliminary look at the data by Ars Technica revealed that a common tactic used by the IRA was to create “local news” accounts for major US cities, seeding them with posts linking to local news outlets.

The accounts, such as “Atlanta Online,” “Baltimore Online,” “Baton Rouge Voice,” “Chicago Daily News,” and “Dallas Top News” would also include tweet-length news headlines with no link, the report said.

Also Read- Habitability Of Surrounding Planets Affected By Super Flares Of Red Dwarfs: NASA

Twitter said if it identifies additional attempted information operations on Twitter in the future, it will release similar datasets in a timely fashion after completing its investigations.

“We may also release incremental additions to existing datasets if we believe the additional information could materially impact research findings,” Twitter said. (IANS)