Bashar al-Assad in Moscow, 2009
Bashar al-Assad in Moscow, 2009

The US military, alongside a number of Arab allies, has begun air strikes on Isis militants in Syria, marking the first time foreign powers have become directly involved in the country's civil war.

Syria's regime was said to be informed, but not involved with the strikes on Isis (also called Islamic State) militants and other extremists groups.

The military might of the US, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will be a huge force for Isis, and Assad's other enemies, to deal with. But it's a complex situation: While Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are all opposed to Assad's regime, Robert Fisk wrote last week that the about-turn in Western foreign policy could also be a boost to the Syrian regime and its supporters.

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