An article was released on Wednesday, March 15, by the Washington Post stating that the U.S. Military is drawing up plans to expand the presence of American troops in Northern Syria in the weeks ahead, potentially adding up to 1,000 ground troops to the region.
According to the Post article, “[w]hile the new contingent of U.S. troops would initially not play a combat role, they would be entering an increasingly complex and dangerous battlefield.”
The focus will be for this latest surge in U.S. forces proposed by the military is one of an advisory role providing their expertise in air support and explosive ordnance disposal to the Kurds battling the Islamic State in the northern areas of Syria. Currently the region has just under 1,000 troops consisting of Special Ops, Rangers and Marines, on the ground. If the Trump administration implements this new plan, another 1,000 conventional troops would be added to support special operations and bolster their numbers as needed.
Despite assurances that these troops will not play a combat role, this is a war, and one with little regard for rules and conventions. Any insertion of US troops will no doubt be met with extreme resistance by ISIS, whose primary interest is drawing the US into a prolonged guerilla conflict in the region, with hopes of breaking our resolve through the draining of our resources, most precious being American lives.
Syria has been mired in conflict for nearly a decade now, with ISIS controlling much of the eastern section of the country and the western and southern portions being fought over by Assad’s government and rebel forces.
The killings have intensified as of late with twin suicide attacks being reported by Arab news outlet, Al Jazeera, on Wednesday. These attacks began with one bomber targeting the capital’s main Judicial center, reportedly killing more than 30 civilians and wounding more than 100. Shortly afterward, another bomber struck, this time in a crowded restaurant in the Rabweh district of Damascus wounding almost 30 people, though the death toll wasn’t immediately available.
These latest blasts come after Saturday’s twin attack targeting holy sites in Damascus’ Old City which killed 40 people and was claimed by a hardline group with ties to Al Qaeda.
According to one article by the BBC, the casualties created by what has now become a 6-year conflict has killed more than 300,000 people and created more than 11 million refugees, with some labeling this as the worst man-made disaster since the calamity that was World War II. This conflict has essentially become a war of proxy by the world powers which include Russia and the United States among others.
These figures are staggering and there seems little hope of a resolution as the latest peace discussions in Astana, Kazakhstan, have been boycotted by the Syrian opposition groups who have complained that the Assad government has repeatedly violated the three month cease-fire agreement.
President Trump has maintained his insistence that though his administration wants to take the fight to ISIS, the primary responsibility should be those neighboring Syria in the region. He has also stated his interest in working with Russia on the question of Syria, and this is where it gets interesting as Russia is backing the Syrian government in this out of control civil war, and the U.S. and its allies are backing rebel forces aimed at removing the Assad regime. How Trump plans on working with Russia when it appears we are on opposite sides of the Syrian street is unclear.
Perhaps he plans to cross this proverbial street and put the weight of American assistance behind the Russian-supported Assad regime, though with the continued political fallout from rumors of the administration’s Russian ties, this seems an unlikely prospect. While the world waits to see the policy decisions of a new administration, the death toll in Syria continues to climb to new heights.
Featured image courtesy of AP