Syria wasn't supposed to be like this, it was meant to be a case of hijacking a popular protest, hand the protesters a few tonnes of arms and when it all turns violent, use the violence as a pretext for another 'humanitarian intervention' which includes bombing the Government into submission, install a western friendly puppet government and sit back and mop up the rebuilding and oil contracts.
Obviously Libya went wrong, as did Iraq and Afghanistan but Syria would be different but the West didn't anticipate Russia being in the mix.
Hot on the heels of the Arab Spring in 2011, a small revolt broke out in Syria, a protest that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad brutally put down but actually had the opposite effect of increasing the anger against the Syrian Government.
Now al-Assad has some friends that the West are not particularly fond of so they saw a chance to oust him and bring in their own more friendly Government so they began shovelling funds and arms to the protesters hoping they would do the regime change bit for them.
The Syrian Government retaliated with the military so the West sent even more arms and funds to the 'rebels', only the 'rebels' included remnants of Al Queada, now calling themselves Islamic State, who had popped across the border from Iraq.
Now armed with heavy weapons, the 'rebels' said thank you very much and not only fought against the Syrian Government forces but popped back across the border back into Iraq where they over-run the north of the country.
America, disturbed that the same people they have given the arms to had used them to attack cities in the country that America had spent a decade fighting for, they found themselves in the ludicrous situation of arming and fighting against the same group of people depending on which side of the Syrian/Iraq border they were stood on.
Al-Assad said he was fighting terrorists, Russia agreed and joined the frey by bombing the 'rebels' while the West watched on until a chemical attack in 2013 which the West blamed on the Syrian Government and made all sort of threats about removing al-Assad but the British Government voted against military action, mainly because the intelligence was that action against the Syrian Government would only benefit Islamic State and without Britain taking it's usual position by it's side in a war, America decided they couldn't justify it either so it went back to the Western backed, heavily armed 'rebels' fighting the Russian backed, heavily armed Government.
Then, a chemical attack in the past fortnight and America decided that the Government forces killing thousands with conventional weapons is one thing but using chemical weapons is beyond the pale and fired 59 missiles at the Syrian airport where the Americans believe the attack originated from.
That then brings us up to date in the Syrian civil war where Russia and Syria face off against the West and their rag tag band of rebels fighting for democracy and freedom/terrorists bringing death and mayhem depending on if they are doing their thing with the weapons the West handed them in Iraq or Syria.
I'm sure it will all work out fine in the end though like it hasn't in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya...fifth times the charm.