It is easy to commit troops to Syria. But the problem is to get them out again. Russia has already been caught in afhganisan. I am not sure they will make the same mistake again. If you dont think this is about sunni and shites , which side doyou think Russia will support?
Syria is a big training ground. "Get them out again" is not part of the calculation because the anti-Sharia forces see the pro-Sharia effort as a permanent social movement. Pro-Sharia is based out of an unassailable base that we call the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is nothing short a permanent war.
As long as KSA and its GCC allies finance al-Q -- twitter feed name: Jabhat a-Nusra -- and ISIS and Muslim Brotherhood there will be a major war in Syria/IraqLebanon. And everywhere else.
There will be terror actions aimed at Russia, Iraq, the Stans, the West, India, parts of Asia, and Israel. Africa will be invaded severally.
Russia made a mess of Afghanistan in the 70s and 80s. Thing is, their effort was largely an attempt to modernize the country and take out Saudi influence through the local network of pro-Sharia madrassahs. In hindsight Western opposition to the Russian invasion was ill advised.
Go back to the pro-Sharia-vs.-anti-Sharia divide to set up an understanding of what was happening. A Russified Afghanistan would have to be an improvement on what we were seeing 1990-2001 and the vast Narco State in operation today. Poppy money is the only big money in country. In comparison, Taliban is a nuisance.
Afghanistan is why heroin is cheap on streets around the world. Cheaper than Oxycontin.
The fights in Syria include propaganda scams that attempt to portray ISIS, MB and "Jabhat a-Nusra" as separate, warring factions. Sure thing, shots get fired now and then. But what they're doing it savaging the local militias. When analysis gets to a Follow The Money step, they're all three of them on the same gravy train. They have the same armorers: the same 20mm/23mm anti-aircraft guns, same mortars, same AKs. Same ammo boxes. Same antitank shoulder-launched missiles. Sourced out of Eastern Europe, delivered through Turkey.
Pro-Sharia implies barbaric attitudes across the social spectrum. Way worse than what the Arabs did in the 7th Century. Today's version is a combo of Sharia rules and psychopathic predations.