The Dangers of Our Illegal Military Presence in Syria
The U.S. attacked pro-regime forces inside Syria again:
U.S. aircraft carried out rare, retaliatory strikes in Syria’s Deir al-Zor province on Wednesday against forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after they attacked U.S.-backed fighters’ headquarters there, U.S. officials said.
The official explanation for the attack is that pro-regime forces launched an assault on U.S.-backed rebels. This is just the latest in a string of clashes between U.S. and pro-regime forces that resulted from our government’s support for rebel groups inside Syria. U.S. special forces are embedded with these rebels, and fortunately so far no Americans have been killed in these clashes. It is probably just a matter of time before that changes.
The military described the pro-regime forces’ attack as “unprovoked,” which is a curious way of talking about a military operation carried out inside their own territory against armed rebels. If it were Syria or Iran sponsoring armed groups in the territory of another country, their military presence itself would be considered a provocation. Our military has no business being in Syria, and as long as we have soldiers there they are being put needlessly in danger in service of a policy that has nothing to do with our security or the security of our allies.
Our forces continue to operate inside Syria illegally, and over the last year our military has repeatedly attacked groups loyal to the Syrian government. U.S. policy in Syria serves no discernible American security interests, our military presence has no legal justification, and the longer our forces remain in Syria the greater the chances that one of these armed clashes could result in the deaths of Americans and possible escalation into a wider war. The ongoing illegal presence of U.S. forces in Syria is a dangerous gamble with American lives that the Trump administration ought to end as quickly as possible.