When he met with President Barack Obama at the United Nations, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed that ISIL in Syria was a menace to the world, and that it had to be destroyed. What he disagreed on gives some idea of what Putin is trying to achieve in his lengthy war against the West. The issue in Syria is how to deal with both ISIL and with President Bashar al-Assad, who has been fighting an insurgency for several years. Western uncertainty in deciding who to back in Syria helps explain why significant aid to rebels fighting Assad has not been forthcoming. There have also been some major embarrassments. After the United States trained and armed rebels who seemed to espouse a Western goal—a secular liberal state—they defected to a faction backed by al Qaeda, which is hardly what the United States or any other Western power wants.
World Naval Developments - Putin's Syrian Adventure
By Norman Friedman