Russian anti-aircraft missile deployments in Syria put a stop to other campaigns conducted by Britain and the US.
The sum total of British military involvement in Syria amounts to three strike missions, all carried out within five days of the grant of parliamentary approval.
It seems no more than 19 bombs have been dropped in total – fewer than a Russian TU22M carries on a single strike.
Even that probably understates the difference since the TU22M can carry far heavier bombs than the bombs a British Tornado bomber can carry.
All of the bombs were dropped on a single facility – the Omar oilfield – which had already been bombed a month before by the US.
The fact all three British strikes were on the Omar oilfield incidentally means that it cannot have been British aircraft that carried out the bombing raid on the Syrian air base at Deir az Zor.
The British government has not given a reason for the absence of any serious British bombing of the Islamic State in Syria since the theoretical start of the British bombing campaign.
The truth is that given the extent to which the British military – and those of France and Germany – are dwarfed by those of the US and Russia, any British contribution was always going to be a token affair.
However the frankly pathetic scale of the British bombing suggests there is more to it than that.
The article in the Daily Telegraph confirms it is not just British bombing in Syria that has ground to a virtual stop.
The article confirms that between 1st and 22nd December 2015 the US coalition carried out just 148 airstrikes in Syria.
That compares with the 164 combat sorties the Russians carried out during just one three day period in December (between 25th and 28th December 2015) and the more than 5,200 combat sorties the Russians have carried out since their bombing campaign in Syria began on 30th September 2015.
Despite predictable denials, the more likely explanation is the huge upgrade in Russian and Syrian air defences that has taken place since Turkey’s shooting down of the SU24 in November.
Not only have the Russians deployed the S400 anti aircraft missile system to Syria, but it seems the Russians have provided the Syrian military with advanced BUK anti-aircraft missile systems, significantly upgrading Syria’s own air defences.
It is likely Russian “advisers” are “helping” the Syrians operate these systems. An article in Bloomberg implies that the BUK systems (referred to by their NATO designation “SAM-17”) are Russian operated.
Bloomberg says that US aircraft on bombing raids in Syria have been tracked (“painted”) by radars associated with the BUK system, causing the US to stop entirely its bombing raids in a part of northern Syria.
If so then that might explain why British bombing has also come to a stop.
Given how politically embarrassing it would be for the British – and the US – to admit the Russian presence in Syria is preventing US and British bombing in Syria, it is understandable why the US representatives consulted by the Daily Telegraph do not mention it, and have come up instead with the rather lame excuse that they are running out of targets.
Regardless of the true reason for the failure of the British – and US – bombing campaign, it is now more clear than ever that the only people who are really fighting the Islamic State and the various other terrorist jihadist groups in Syria are the Russians, the Syrians, their allies, and no-one else.