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US Vows To Respond Against Drone Strikes On Their Forces In Syria

The US government is now seeking retaliation as “its right” after locations where US forces are allegedly based inside Syria were struck by drone strike. But how can a foreign military, illegally occupying Syrian land, have any right to retaliate when their presence there is in and of itself an act of war?

This Wednesday night, at around 7pm [local time], the al-Tanf military base, located in Syria’s Dimashq Province, was hit by drone strikes and other projectiles in “a deliberate and coordinated attack”, according to US Central Command. The al-Tanf base houses American special forces and a mercenary militia called Maghawir al-Thawra (MAT), although CENTCOM denies any US forces had been killed or injured in the attack, MAT has not commented about the damage their forces incurred.

The locations struck, which sit along Syria’s border with Iraq and Jordan, instantly sparked suspicion that the ‘Syria Allies Operations Room’ of armed groups had orchestrated the attack as retaliation. The group had released a statement, on October 14, in which they stated that they would respond harshly to airstrikes launched against Syria, by Israel, which had killed a Syrian soldier and injured 3 others. The Syria Allies Operation Room had stated that the Israeli attack, on Syria’s Palmyra, had been carried out from Jordan and through the al-Tanf area, making the US government complicit.

However it seems that the US is going to blame “Iran-backed militias”, likely the Iraqi Kataeb Hezbollah group and other parties belonging to the Popular Mobilisation Units. It has been stated by the US that they believe the strikes came from the East, close to the Iraq-Syria border, indicating that Iranian allied militias operating out of the Imam Ali base, close to Abu Kamal, were responsible.

CENTCOM’s statement issued on the attack said that “We maintain the inherent right of self-defense and will respond at a time and place of our choosing,” which is an interesting comment due to the fact that the US government is currently occupying Syrian territory in contravention of International Law.

In fact, the United States currently occupy two portions of Syrian territory, the al-Tanf area, along with North Eastern Syria, making them dominant over roughly a third of Syrian territory. They are also violating the 4th Geneva Convention, which stipulates that a foreign power cannot loot the resources of the nation it has entered. In the case of the United States, which entered Syria during the Presidency of Barrack Obama, it has never received any congressional approval for its occupation. The American government currently controls over 90% of Syria’s oil, primarily located around the al-Omar oil fields, in addition to its most fertile agricultural lands.

Whilst trucking Syrian wheat out of the country, across the Iraqi border, the US currently has some of the toughest sanctions on earth applied against the Syrian government, which is impoverishing the already war-torn country even further.

Western media, however, remains willfully oblivious to the heinous crimes that are currently being committed against Syria, carried out through successive US administrations, and calls US allied forces “rebels”. The US allied armed groups in al-Tanf — there purely to combat Daesh (ISIS) the US claims — are not like other anti-Syrian government armed groups who participated in the war. These groups are there purely for money. These armed groups are mercenaries, very few are committed to any cause, and operate as an effective cannon-fodder ground force. They are accompanied by US special forces units as well as airpower. The beauty of this set up for the US government is that it’s able to use the area as a supply route into Iraq, and if needed, can utilize its ally Jordan whenever necessary.

The real reason why al-Tanf is still under US control has nothing to do with Daesh, which was largely defeated by the Syrian government and its allies back in 2017 and currently consists of small cave-dwelling units. Instead, they are there to block a key supply route. By blocking off main bypass roads, which allow for Iran and its allies to transfer goods from Iraq through Syria, it makes things tougher on Iran’s allies. Iranian allied forces operate in ad-Deir Ezzor, to Syria’s East, and if they need to transfer weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, must take them through Syria in order to do so.

Recent speculation had arisen about an Egyptian-Jordanian effort to supply Lebanon with fuel, utilizing Syria to transfer it, after a call in July between Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the Syrian President. Despite the talk of the Biden administration freezing its ‘Caesar act’ sanctions, specifically so that they wouldn’t effect Jordan or Egypt for dealing with the Syrian government, it does not look like the US is about to normalize relations anytime soon. Yet a call between Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, earlier this week, may have signaled a greater push from the UAE to achieve this and an attempt to win some Western allied favor in Damascus.

For now, however, the US government continues to strangle Syria and pursue a policy of maximum aggression against Iran and its allies. US forces have already launched two strikes this year against Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Units, which are part of Iraq’s official security apparatus. Another round of strikes inside Syria, and perhaps Iraq, will do the US no favors, especially after attacks by groups belonging to the PMU have just begun to temporarily halt their operations.

Robert Inlakesh
Robert Inlakesh is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, Middle-East analyst & news correspondent for The Last American Vagabond.

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