A US Navy F/A-18 launches from its carrier during Operation Inherent Resolve (Photo: Alex King/US Navy. Source: Wikicommons)
In the past week, the situation in Syria has not only continued to become increasingly dangerous, but thanks to the US and its allies on the ground in Syria, the threat of all-out war is actually accelerating towards us.
Just one week ago, 21WIRE warned that the presence of American and British troops on Syrian territory near al-Tanf was extremely dangerous, and that the actions they were taking against Syrian and pro-Syrian forces – which they laughably call ‘defensive‘ – were highly provocative, including moving in HIMARS rocket systems with a range of up to 300km.
Since then, the situation has taken a very serious turn for the worse. Not only did an American fighter jet shoot down a Syrian plane in Raqqa province – the first time such an event has happened during the conflict – but Iran also made its presence felt by firing missiles into Deir Az Zor province in Syria, in retaliation against ISIS for terrorist attacks carried out in Tehran.
It would appear that the US is being deliberately provacative, hoping that the Syrian (or worse, Russian) government will respond and give the Pentagon the excuse it is looking for to escalate the war even further. The cards that Russia and Syria (and Iran) decide to play from here on will be of the utmost importance in deciding how this conflict progresses.
More on this story from The Unz Review…
US Army officers in Iraq during operations against ISIS (Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Robert Lemmons. Source: Wikicommons)
The Unz Review
By now most of you have heard the latest bad news out of Syria: on June 18th a US F/A-18E Super Hornet (1999) used a AIM-120 AMRAAM (1991) to shoot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 (1970). Two days later, June 20th, a US F-15E Strike Eagle shot down an Iranian IRGC Shahed 129 drone. The excuse used each time was that there was a threat to US and US supported forces. The reality is, of course, that the US are simply trying to stop the advance of the Syrian army. This was thus a typical American “show of force”. Except that, of course, shooting a 47 year old Soviet era Su-22 fighter-bomber is hardly an impressive feat. Neither is shooting a unmanned drone. There is a pattern here, however, and that pattern is that all US actions so far have been solely for show: the basically failed bombing of the Syria military airbase, the bombing of the Syrian army column, the shooting down of the Syrian fighter-bomber and of the Iranian drone – all these actions have no real military value. They do, however, have a provocative value as each time all the eyes turn to Russia to see if the Russians will respond or not.
Russia did respond this time again, but in a very ambiguous and misunderstood manner. The Russians announced, amongst other measures that from now on “any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles of the [US-led] international coalition, located to the west of the Euphrates River, will be tracked by Russian ground and air defense forces as air targets” which I reported as “Russian MoD declares it will shoot down any aircraft flying west of the Euphrates river”. While I gave the exact Russian quote, I did not explain why I paraphrased the Russian words the way I did. Now is a good time to explain this.
First, here is the exact original Russian text:
«В районах выполнения боевых задач российской авиацией в небе Сирии любые воздушные объекты, включая самолёты и беспилотные аппараты международной коалиции, обнаруженные западнее реки Евфрат, будут приниматься на сопровождение российскими наземными и воздушными средствами противовоздушной обороны в качестве воздушных целей»
A literal translation would be:
“In areas of the combat missions of Russian aviation in the skies of Syria any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicle of the international coalition discovered to the West of the Euphrates river, will be tracked by Russian ground based an airborne assets as air targets”
So what does this exactly mean in technical-military terms?
READ MORE SYRIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire SYRIA Files
Syrian War Report – June 23, 2017: Army Regaining More Ground Near Palmyra
The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the National Defense Forces (NDF) and other pro-government factions have further advanced against ISIS and US-backed militants in the province of Homs. On Thursday, government troops captured Tal Ghurab northwest of the US garrison of Zquf near the Syrian-Iraqi border. With the liberation of Tal Ghurab, the SAA and its allies increased pressure on US-backed militants operating in the area and strengthened the Syrian military position at the border with Iraq.
Separately, the SAA and the NDF captured Zahar Abah and clashes with ISIS at the Arak gas fields area. ISIS militants fiercely defend their positions east of Palmyra.
In the province of Raqqah, the SAA and the NDF have resumed attempts to re-take the Ithriyah-Resafa road from ISIS terrorists. An intense fighting is ongoing.
Earlier this week, the SAA seized a large ISIS workshop in Resafa, capturing a notable number of battle tanks and other equipment.
Turkey, Russia and Iran have been working on a plan to deploy their troops in de-escalation areas in Syria, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told media on Thursday.
“We will probably be most prominent in the Idlib region with the Russians; mostly Russia and Iran around Damascus, and a mechanism involving the Americans and Jordan in the south in the Daraa region is being worked on,” Ibrahim Kalin said, adding that the sides will further discuss the de-escalation agreement during talks in the Kazakh capital Astana in early July.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Shamanov, head of the defense committee at Russia’s State Duma said that Moscow has been negotiating with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan suggesting them to deploy some forces into the recently established de-escalation zones.
Russia, Turkey and Iran signed a deal in Astana on May 4 to establish four de-escalation zones in order to minimize violence in the war-torn country.
On Thursday, reports appeared that the government and militants operating in Daraa have reached comprehensive reconciliation agreement and the SAA may re-establish control over the border with Jordan in the area. However, these reports were not confirmed by government officials. Clashes in the area continued.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued an advance south of Raqqah, capturing Al-Kamb from ISIS. If the SDF seizes Mustajid Naqib, ISIS units will be fully encircled inside the city. ISIS launched a series of counter-attacks in Raqqah but didn’t regain any large areas.