A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle flies over northern Iraq early in the morning of Sept. 23, 2014, after conducting airstrikes in Syria. This F-15 was a part of a large coalition strike package that was the first to strike ISIL targets in Syria. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Bruch/Released)

While the West is critical of Russian airstrikes for hitting moderate Syrian opposition groups, both have resolved to take action against ISIL. But doing so now, when the war has come to be defined as Sunni versus Alawi – and other minorities – will only feed Sunni resentment and bolster the popularity of ISIL. What neither side will countenance is the only feasible option: dividing the country into separate ethno-sectarian cantons. Continue reading