With all the faux-outrage this morning around the Russian airstrikes, there is one accusation that is conspicuously lacking from French and US comments - that Putin is acting illegally. Putin's 'illegal' intervention in Ukraine, you recall, was routinely quoted in every news report of that conflict. And neither will you hear the US condemned on the BBC for acting 'illegally' in Syria - for US airsrikes against the Assad regime, and US special forces active in theatre, are indeed very illegal under international law. In Syria the position in the Ukraine is reversed; Putin, invited by Assad to intervene, is acting legally whilst the US, with neither Assad's blessing nor a UN Resolution, is acting illegally. As for what the biggish players are actually up to;
US - Covertly supporting the rebels in war against Assad under the pretext of fighting ISIS. Airstrikes and special forces in theatre.
RUSSIA - Overtly supporting Assad in war against the rebels under the pretext of fighting ISIS. Airstrikes and special forces in theatre
FRANCE - Making a bid to be Saudi Arabia's biggest arse-licker and arms merchant, is supplying arms to anti-Assad rebels which are routed to ISIS. Almost certainly involved in corrupt Saudi financing of terrorism in Syria.
UK - Sticklers for international law since Blair's contraventions, UK aid to the rebels is confined to 'non-lethal' supplies and equipment and selected anti-Assad intelligence routed from GC outpost Cyprus. Possibly has special forces in theatre.
If yesterday's Russian missiles took out any US special forces by accident, we won't hear about it. At least not now. But the squeaks of protest from the Pentagon will put pressure on the State dept to declare openly to Putin exacly how many US special forces are in Syria and exactly where they are - if they don't want them zapped.
For Putin, it's win-win; all he needs is for the oil price to creep back up.