By Jean Périer
The actions that the Pentagon has recently been taking in Syria resulted in the extreme risk of a direct armed engagement between American troops illegally deployed in Syria and the forces of Bashar al-Assad.
Upon realizing that the anti-terrorist operation, that the Syrian armed forces are conducting together with Russia’s and Iran’s forces in bid to liberate those regions of Syria that are still under control of the Islamic State, which is a major success, Washington decided to put its foothold in Syria before it’s too late. Once the Syrian government troops reached the border areas with Iraq it jeopardized all the plans that Washington has been making about the establishment of a large US-controlled zone in the east of Syria, the scenario that would have affected both the future of the country and the negotiation process to end the war that is going to be launched sooner or later.
Under these conditions, the United States rushed to redeploy its HIMARS multiple rocket launchers from Jordan to at Syria’s Al-Zakf, in an urgent attempt to create yet another American military base in the war-torn country. It’s reported the operational range of HIMARS systems reaches 300 miles, which is critical for understanding Washington’s plans. The systems have been deployed near a strategically important border crossing Al-Tanf, which means that they can block off the advancement of the government troops that would try to seal all border crossing in a bid to prevent new Islamist radicals from entering the country.
The advancement of Syrian government troops with the support of Russia and Iran forces towards the At-Tanf border crossing is not just a strategic event, but a historical one. It won’t be an exaggeration to state that at this point in Syrian war certain areas of Syria that have turned into disputed areas that global players contest. And Washington’s attempts to destroy fleeing ISIS detachments before Syrian armed forces reach them reminds us of the situation in the spring of 1945, when the US and its Western allies were racing to capture strategically important areas of in Germany, as the Third Reich was crumbling.
Upon embarking on this path, Washington has decided to display force, acting in complete disregard of all international norms, putting itself in the shoes of an aggressor that violates the sovereignty of the independent Syrian state. The decision of the US-led coalition to intensify air strikes in the al-Raqqa Governorate area led to hundreds of civilian deaths and the forced a total of 160,000 to leave their homes behind, as it was announced by the head of the United Nations Independent Commission on Human Rights Violations in Syria, Paulo Sérgio Pinheir in Geneva.
In an bid to obtain an upper hand in the fight for al-Raqqa, the US coalition decided to use white phosphorus that is prohibited from use in residential areas by international, as it’s been reported by the French television channel BFM TV.
In an open demonstration of its aggressive intent, for the last couple month the US coalition has been repeatedly attacking Syrian army units, which has not just resulted in deaths of the Syrian military personnel, but has also claimed dozens of civilian lives.
And now, on Sunday evening, Syria’s Su-22 that was carrying out the mission of destroying ISIS radicals in the vicinity of al-Raqqa was shot down by the US Air Force F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter. This barbarous step unseen from the days of the Bosnian war has marked a new height in Pentagon’s military aggression against sovereign states. The destruction of an aircraft that was carrying out an anti-terrorist mission over the territory of the country it belongs in the best interest of its citizens and its country is, without a glimpse of a doubt, is a war crime. As the Military Times emphasizes, this is a vivid example of the critical level of tension that exists between the Syrian government, supported by Russia, and the US coalition forces.
Therefore, the immediate response of the Russian Defense Department, which called the destruction of the Syrian Air Force aircraft by the uninvited US forces in the Syrian airspace of Syria a cynical violation of the country’s sovereignty, committed in disregard of Moscow’s repeated warnings about the possible consequences of the repeated destruction of Syrian servicemen and Syrian military equipment that made no hostile steps against US servicemen. In this regard, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that it has ceased its cooperation with the American side in the framework of the memorandum on the prevention of incidents and ensuring air safety during operations in Syria and demanded the Pentagon to conduct a thorough investigation of the Su-22 downing, while providing all details to Moscow. Now the Russian military forces, stationed in Syria at the request of the legitimate Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, will accompany as air targets any planes and drones of the US coalition operating to the west of the Euphrates River.
Washington’s actions in Syria clearly show that its stated goals have nothing in common with the real goals the US has been pursuing in Syria, repeatedly committing acts of armed aggression against the legitimate government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the Syrian army. Today, everyone understands that by their actions the Pentagon seeks to stop the expansion of the Syrian troops in the east, and also to undermine the joint Syrian-Iraqi strategic defense project before it takes off. After all, no opposition group, regardless of its affiliation (Kurds, local tribes, the so-called Free Syrian Army etc.) has the capacity to replace ISIS for Washington to be able to support them, since none of them can resist the Syrian Arab army.
However, Washington’s recent actions must be regarded more broadly: will it continue supporting radical Islamists across the globe, trying to put groups like ISIS in power in a bid of achieving global domination through the use of proxy forces? Will Europe still be suffering from terrorist attacks that are undermining the existing security paradigm, while the US still be demanding its “European allies” to increase their expenditures on arms purchases that are allegedly needed for combating terrorism.