The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 81/No. 12      March 27, 2017

(front page)

Washington escalates Syria war, looks to attack Raqqa

Washington has sent 400 troops from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit to northern Syria to set up an artillery base as part of preparations for a planned military offensive to capture the city of Raqqa from the Islamic State.

At the same time, the Pentagon says they’re sending 2,500 ground combat paratroopers to Kuwait from the 82nd Airborne Combat Team, Army Times reported March 9. They will be “postured there to do all things Mosul, Raqqa, all in between,” Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson told a U.S. House hearing.

These U.S. “boots on the ground” are in addition to the estimated 500 special forces that have been operating in the region for some time, training and advising the Syrian Democratic Forces, comprised of 30,000 Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) members and Arab fighters in preparation for the fight to take Raqqa.

A separate unit of elite U.S. Army Rangers traveling in heavily armored Stryker vehicles and Humvees flying large U.S. flags was deployed near the town of Manjib — an area that has become an unstable flashpoint for the competing military forces of Ankara, Damascus, Moscow, local forces who oppose the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, and their allied YPG.

The U.S. rulers are seeking to more effectively defend their economic and political interests in the Middle East, as are all the competing forces there. Washington says the deployment of the Rangers unit to Manjib is to prevent any clashes between these competing and often hostile forces.

The U.S. military command in Syria reported that Russian jets mistakenly bombed Syrian Arab fighters they were training March 1. The operation “pointed to the risk of unintended clashes among the myriad forces operating on a fluid battlefield in Syria,” the New York Times said.

In 2011 mass protests broke out across Syria demanding political rights and the overthrow of the dictatorial Assad regime. The government responded with harsh brutality, killing and imprisoning tens of thousands. A civil war ensued, which has led to a social catastrophe for working people — with more than 400,000 killed and over half the population driven from their homes.

Washington wants to assemble the forces to lay siege to Raqqa as fast as possible, before any competitor can do so. Besides the growing number of U.S. troops, the main fighting force has been the Syrian Democratic Forces, the bulk of whom, and virtually the entire command leadership, are composed of Kurds from the YPG. At the same time, Syrian government troops, backed by Moscow’s bombers and Tehran-backed militia forces, are less than 40 miles away.

But Washington’s plans could be delayed because of differences within the Donald Trump administration over how to proceed while limiting any breach with the Turkish government, a key NATO ally that opposes any participation by the Kurds.

YPG forces control 20,000 square miles of Syrian territory on the Syrian-Turkish border. The capitalist rulers in Ankara fear their advances will inspire the substantial Kurdish population in Turkey to fight for autonomy.

Washington, no ally of the decadeslong struggle of the over 30 million stateless Kurds for a homeland in a geographical area that spans the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran, considers the Kurdish YPG the most effective fighting force against Islamic State and therefore necessary for the fight to take Raqqa.

Last August YPG fighters expelled IS from Manjib. Ankara then sent its military forces into Syria under the flag of Free Syrian Army, aiming to force the YPG east of the Euphrates River and prevent them from linking up with the Kurdish population in northwestern Syria.

Ankara has threatened to attack Manbij if the YPG doesn’t pull out. With the approval of Washington, Moscow brokered an agreement for the YPG and the Manbij Military Council that has been running the town to hand over some nearby towns to the Assad regime.

At the end of 2016, Moscow, Ankara, Tehran, Assad and rebel representatives agreed to a “cease-fire” followed by failed peace talks sponsored by the United Nations that ended March 3.

But for Syria’s toilers there is little cease-fire.

In the last week of February, 282 civilians were killed, including 54 children, as a result of intensified airstrikes and shelling by the regime and Russian warplanes. And on March 9 the BBC reported U.S.-led coalition airstrikes killed 20 men, women and children near Raqqa.
Related articles:
US-led war games in SKorea exacerbate tensions in Asia
US troops out of Middle East, Asia!
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home