You might’ve thought that the United States‘ policy in Syria couldn’t get any more confused or damaged: but the admission that a US air strike has killed somewhere between 60 to 83 soldiers of the Syrian Army is just about the worst thing, and at the worst time, that could’ve happened in terms of US credibility.
Syria’s military says the US-led coalition struck its base in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, causing significant material damage and killing dozens of Syrian Army personnel.
US officials maintain that this was an accident, but inevitable accusations of deliberate attack quickly ensued. It is hardly surprising that Damascus would be angry: that many soldiers is hardly a small loss of life. Although there have been various incidents in Syria and Iraq where the US and its allies have been accused of aiding terrorists and acting against Syrian government interests, this is the first time the US has struck so directly and so substantially against the Syrian Army. And it doesn’t look good.
The Russian foreign ministry says it has “reached the terrifying conclusion” that Washington may be directly in alliance with the so-called Islamic State.
This is particularly interesting coming from Russian officials, as there has until now been a degree of caution over directly or blatantly accusing the US of being in alliance with the so-called Islamic State militants. Moscow could have accused Washington of supporting IS many times over the last few years – given that there is no shortage of evidence to suggest it – but has generally declined to do so until now; suggesting this strike on Deir el-Zour could be a real turning point.
ABC reports that Russia has called for an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council in response to the attack that is claimed to have hit Syrian troops who were engaging in battle against IS fighters. Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova is quoted as having said that Moscow is demanding “full and detailed explanations about whether this was deliberate support of the Islamic State or another mistake.”
US Ambassador – and one of those key propagandists who previously invented the stories about Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi ordering his soldiers to rape women – Samantha Power, appeared to pour scorn over the Russian request, maintaining the strike was an accident and seeming to regard it as not a big deal, while accusing Russia of “cynical” maneuvering. She chose instead to reiterate the allegations of Russian and Syrian strikes against hospitals in Aleppo.
Zakharova is quoted by the state news agency, Tass, as saying that “after today’s attack on the Syrian army, we come to the terrible conclusion that the White House is defending the Islamic State.”
US Centcom issued a statement admitting to the killing of over 60 Syrian troops and claiming that it was a mistake.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has put the number higher and said at least 83 soldiers were killed in the raids on Jabal Therdeh, southwest of the Deir Ezzor airport.
The claim from Washington is that US forces mistook the target for an IS position. Which may have genuinely been the case: if it was a mistake, it’s a mistake that will destroy Washington’s dwindling credibility even further and reinforce rampant questions about the true purpose of US military activity in Syria.
What’s worse is that the strike appears to have directly aided the Islamic State fighters. The Syrian military said in a statement that the attack enabled an Islamic State advance on the hill overlooking the air base.
This incident also comes just as the renewed ceasefire and peace process, brokered by Russia and the United States, was supposed to be in effect. There is already suspicion in Damascus and among the Syrian government’s allies that these cessations and ceasefires are essentially just intended to buy the foreign-backed rebel factions time to regroup. A US air-strike on Syrian government forces only increases suspicion that the process is a spurious one formulated to delay or prevent Syrian government reclamation of territories from rebel militias.
If, again, this deadly strike was an error, it should only serve to further highlight that the US really has no business being in Syria at all.
This major incident occurs not only in the wake of the so-called peace/ceasefire period, but just as a delegation from the ‘US Peace Council‘ recently returned from a fact-finding mission into Syria and delivered a damning verdict on the situation.
While mainstream media in the US was always unlikely to cover this, the members of the USPC spent six days meeting with Syrian government officials and opposition members, as well as civil leaders, business leaders, union representatives, charities and NGOs, and they issued their report just over a month ago.
Holding a press conference (see video below), in which they completely destroyed Washington’s and the mainstream media’s false narratives on Syria and affirmed what many of us have understood for years now: that the war in Syria is not a ‘civil war’ nor really a war between a regime and the population, but an arena of foreign-backed covert warfare and proxy armies.
The Duran reported on the USPC’s statement. Madelyn Hoffman, Executive Director of New Jersey Peace Action, says during the conference; “This is not a civil war in Syria… It is not President Assad against his own people. It is President Assad and the Syrian people, all together, in unity, against outside forces, outside mercenary forces, terror organisations… supported by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United States, and underneath it, Israel, the state of Israel.”
None of that is new information; but Western government officials and the corporate media are continuing to hold to the false narrative campaign to the bitter, bitter end.
Now this killing of over sixty Syrian soldiers could’ve genuinely been an error: after all, it seems like it would be PR suicide for US forces to have done it deliberately, particularly after John Kerry’s diplomatic efforts. On the other hand, US strategy might now be so desperate that it was willing to risk that just for the sake of affording the IS militants a tactical advantage. I suggested in recent posts (here and here) that US strategy might presently be simply to prolong the fighting and delay a decisive victory for the Syrian government over the various jihadist groups – long enough for the change in US presidency, and presumably a Hillary Clinton victory, to signal a shift in policy.
‘Accidentally’ attacking a Syrian Army location and killing numerous soldiers would, in that context, simply serve to stall decisive Syrian government victories and allow foreign-backed jihadists to survive another day and continue the fight. The chemical weapons incidents, the ‘humanitarian crisis’ in Aleppo, and even the ceasefire itself, may all be designed to do the same thing – stall for time, while keeping the international pressure on the Assad regime.
Alternatively, ‘accidentally’ killing up to 80 Syrian soldiers could also, in cruder terms, simply be a warning to Damascus to ‘back off’, while maintaining the pretense to the rest of the world that it was a mistake.
Either way, deliberate or accidental, it simply highlights why the US should have no business in Syria at all, being there – along with France, Turkey and others – in breach of international law and with no invitation or approval from the Syrian government.