US intelligence officials hope the crash of a Russian passenger jet in Egypt, which was apparently caused by a bomb, would force Russian President Vladimir Putin to take a tougher line against the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group, according to a report.
A growing number of US intelligence, military, and national security officials have indicated in recent days that the Airbus A321 was brought down by a bomb planted on the plane by ISIL terrorists.
The Russian airliner, which was on its way to Saint Petersburg, disintegrated over the Sinai Peninsula on October 31, minutes after it took off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, killing all 224 people aboard.
Ever since Russia began bombing militant positions in Syria, US officials have argued that President Putin committed a major “strategic blunder,” and that most of the airstrikes have been directed at US-backed militants instead of the Daesh terrorists.
With permission from the Damascus government, Russia launched an air campaign on September 30 to destroy Daesh and other militants wreaking havoc in Syria.
Now, six US intelligence and military officials told The Daily Beast that they hoped the apparent attack on the Russian passenger jet would force Putin’s hands to target the ISIL group.
“Now maybe they will start attacking [Daesh],” one senior military official said. “And stop helping them,” referring to Daesh gains in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo that US officials said came because the terror group took advantage of Russian strikes on rival militant outfits.
“I suppose now he’ll really let ISIS have it. This should be fun,” one senior intelligence official told The Daily Beast, using another acronym for the terrorist network.
Some Obama administration officials are also wondering if a terrorist attack would prompt Putin to expand his military involvement in Syria, drawing Russia deeper into a “quagmire.”
When the Russian airliner went down, some US officials privately delighted that Russia had to pay for its military engagement in Syria, The Daily Beastsaid.
Two US officials told the news website they hoped that Russia did plunge into the “quagmire” of Syria. “If he [Putin] wants to jump into that mess, good luck,” one official said.
The United States has revamped its strategy in Syria more than a year after it launched a bombing campaign against purported Daesh positions in Iraq and Syria.
President Barack Obama authorized the deployment of dozens of special forces to Syria on October 30, reneging on a longstanding pledge not to put “boots on the ground” in the war-torn country.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Sunday that more US troops could "absolutely" be deployed to Syria if the Pentagon identifies more "capable local forces" on the ground.
The United States - with assistance from its regional allies especially Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - has been arming and training “moderate” militant units to combat the Syrian government and the Daesh group.