The US led coalition has just confirmed that the US has bombed what it calls “pro-regime” (ie. Syrian government forces) supposedly in self defence.
RT reports a statement issued by the US led coalition command confirming the attack as saying the following
In defense of Coalition and partner forces, the Coalition conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression against partners engaged in the Global Coalition’s defeat-Daesh (Islamic State, IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) mission,” the Central Command said in a press release.
The retaliatory attack was carried out after Syrian “pro-regime forces initiated an unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters,” the coalition claimed.
The US-led coalition has also firmly stressed its “non-negotiable right to act in self-defense,” since its service members are embedded with the “partners” on ground in Syria.
The claimed area of the attack – eight miles east of the Euphrates river – fits in with a general picture of Syrian military advances in this area as Kurdish forces operating under the cover of ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ are redeployed to fight the Turkish army further to the west.
The US for its part is however trying to keep the Syrian military out of this area, because of its concerns that were this area to fall under Syrian government control it would facilitate the setting up of the so-called ‘land bridge’ linking Lebanon and Syria via Iraq to Iran.
It is now becoming increasingly clear that preventing or at least obstructing the setting up of this land bridge is one of the US’s primary foreign policy priorities, and is one of the reasons why the US military remains – illegally – in Syria.
The reported bombing raid however also highlights the growing complexity of the Syrian conflict.
Recently the Syrian government permitted the massive redeployment of Kurdish forces through Syrian military controlled territory to the Kurdish controlled enclave of Afrin, which is now coming under Turkish attack.
If the US led coalition statement is to be believed, the Syrian military at the same time that it is helping the Kurdish militia redeploy to fight the Turkish army in the west is attacking the Kurdish militia in the east.
Unfortunately it is not impossible that this is indeed what is happening, with the Syrian military anxious to forestall any return by ISIS to territory once controlled by ISIS but lost to the Kurds east of the Euphrates, whilst at the same time seeking to capitalise on the Kurds’ current difficulties by bringing territory previously controlled by the Kurds under its control.
There is however also unfortunately a further possibility, that this attack is somehow linked to the current large scale advances of the Syrian military in western as well as eastern Syria, with the US anxious to stop these advances, and acting to prevent them.
The next few days will show whether this is so, and whether this bombing raid is a one-off event or is a curtain raiser for a further very dangerous escalation involving a large scale US attack on the Syrian military across Syria.
Much will depend on whether the US attempts to bomb the Syrian military by encroaching into Russian controlled Syrian airspace west of the Euphrates.
If that does not happen, then this latest incident should not be too dangerous.
However if it does happen, then all bets are off.