Why is Syria so important to Russia, and the U.S., for that matter, leaving aside the obvious moral point of using banned chemical weapons? If one looks at a map of Syria, one would see that the only way for vast amounts of oil and natural gas from Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar that could move over pipeline toward Turkey – which is short on such deposits, and later on toward
Europe – is through Syria. True, Iraq is also bordering Turkey, but with its semi-autonomous Kurdish region where interested parties would likely be unwilling to surrender the leverage of controlling a large oil or a natural-gas pipeline given the natural desire of the Kurdish people for self-determination. Syria has a Kurdish area too, but the only alternative possible pipeline route to Turkey passes though non-Kurdish areas of Syria.