Opinion: The Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) have continued to hammer the forces of the Islamic State (ISIS) that lay in front of them. The Syrian government of President Assad, along with their Russian allies are calling for the United States now to withdraw from the country.
“We also call on the United States, whose military units are on Syrian territory illegally, to leave the country,” the joint statement said.
The ISIS fighters are being squeezed into a four-square-kilometer sliver of territory along the Euphrates River. The fighting is fierce where the ISIS troops are now left with the prospect of having nowhere to run. In the recent fighting for the villages of Susa and Marashida, the Daesh, the Arabic word for ISIS are taking reprisals against the civilians who try to flee from the fighting. SDF troops, like everywhere ISIS has been are finding piles of bodies at every turn.
In the fierce fighting in Susa, SDF troops took the town, only to have ISIS counterattack and force them back out. But SDF augmented by Kurdish Special Forces troops, massive amounts of artillery and air strikes, routed the ISIS elements in the town, which lay in ruin now.
Because of the reprisals, ISIS has taken against the civilian populace, they’ll follow on with their next tactic out of their playbook which is to use the civilians as human shields. And the international community will call for them to be given another free pass like the one they were given at Raqua. ISIS made a deal with the SDF to allow “a few hundred” fighters and their families leave Raqua.
The BBC reported that 250 fighters were permitted to leave Raqqa. They left with 3,500 family members to ISIS-controlled territory. According to the BBC, their convoy included nearly 50 rented trucks, 13 buses, and more than 100 ISIS vehicles. Ten trucks were loaded with weapons. What was told was that just a few dozen fighters and their families would be let go. With no foreigners and no weapons.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about ISIS over the past several years, is that they deserve no quarter from anyone. Have they given any to any civilian anywhere? The U.S. and British would not attack the convoys as the vehicles were driven by civilians and the coalition said they wouldn’t bomb women and children.
That sordid affair was captured here in its entirety:
The Syrians and Russians are also calling for the U.S. to allow refugees in Rukban along the Syrian-Jordan border to be evacuated by Syrian and Russian troops. The regime is supplying buses to move the refugees in the camp where conditions are dire.
Rukban lies smack in the middle of the US-Russian demilitarized zone, created by the two superpowers so that no “mistaken” conflicts arise between the two countries. Neither the Americans nor Russians would take responsibility for the camp.
The nearby U.S. military base near al-Tanf also allows the US to be close to a supply route where Iranian weapons enter Syria from Iraq.
The Jordanians will no longer help the camp after ISIS attacked its troops near the border. The civilians in the camp (about 50,000) are stuck in the middle. They initially fled from the Assad regime and ISIS. Assad’s forces have not allowed aid to reach the camp.
The Russians claim that a recent poll conducted by the U.N. had 95 percent of its refugees wanted to leave Rukban and that 80 percent wanted to return to areas under Syrian regime control. Yet when the Russians opened a pair of “humanitarian corridors” to territory held by the Assad regime, not one refugee left.
The civilians (80% women and children) fear arrest, torture, and even death at the hands of Assad.
But yet, the Syrians and Russians try to lay the blame on the Americans. “The command of the US group in the al-Tanf zone interferes the exit, moreover, misleads the refugees about the inability to leave the camp, spreads rumors, that on the territory controlled by the Syrian government, they will be devastated, forced into conscription and arrested,” they said in their statement.
The Trump Administration had said that they were completely pulling out of Syria, which is exactly what the regime, the Russians and the Iranians have wanted. But after speaking with Turkish President Ergodan, Trump reversed his field and has decided to leave about 400 troops in the country at two different locations. That is about 20 percent of the currently 2000 troops in the country.
Erdogan has made it clear that his government will not tolerate armed Kurds on the border with Turkey as he considers the SDF the same as the YPG and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which his government sees as terrorists.
Meanwhile, freezing temperatures, lack of food, medicines, and doctors have the refugees on the brink. Eight children have starved to death in Rukban since the beginning of the year.
Now is not the time for the United States to leave too soon or to allow ISIS to leave the country unmolested. European nations are refusing to allow nationals who left to fight for ISIS back in their countries. The United States should adopt the same policy.
Photo: Getty Images