On 10th September, Russia and the US announced a plan to bring about a ceasefire in Syria. The pact called for the Syrian government and the opposition to respect a nationwide ceasefire scheduled to take effect at sundown on Monday 12th September. The US is still not prepared to publicly release the details of this deal, despite Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, requesting that it would be in the interest of all parties to disclose the details to avoid any ambiguity in the perception of the status of its implementation by the international community.
Yesterday US-led coalition jets bombed Syrian government forces’ positions near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, killing 62 Syrian soldiers and injuring over 100 people. The Russian Defense Ministry said that two F-16 jet fighters and two A-10 support aircraft carried out four strikes and had entered Syrian airspace from the territory of Iraq.
In the immediate aftermath of these airstrikes, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov said, “if the airstrike was caused by the wrong coordinates of targets then it’s a direct consequence of the stubborn unwillingness of the American side to coordinate with Russia in its actions against terrorist groups in Syria.”
In what was seen as a prelude to an ISIS offensive Konashenkov remarked, “immediately after the airstrike by coalition planes, Islamic State militants launched their offensive. Fierce fighting with the terrorists is currently underway in the area of the airport where for a long a time humanitarian aid for civilians was parachuted.”
The Syrian General Command were more forthcoming suggesting the airstrikes were serious and blatant acts of aggression and that it demonstrated clear evidence of collusion between the US and its allies with ISIS militants. The US Central Command later issued a statement, saying that it had no intention of targeting Syrian government forces and promised that they would review the circumstance surrounding these airstrikes. Words are often cheap but it is believed that the US went into full-blown panic mode after these airstrikes, so perhaps these conciliatory words might have had some gravitas. However, given that the bombings were carried out after US intelligence gathering over a number of days had been completed, then they are either utterly incompetent or disingenuous. But given the US attack stopped immediately upon Russian notification that they were targeting the Syrian military one would be forgiven for assuming it was indeed crass stupidity.
In earlier developments on Saturday, Russia had accused the US of a failure to take the necessary steps to ensure that rebels who fell under its control were abiding with the terms of the ceasefire agreement. Furthermore, Russia had expressed concerns that the US were in fact unable to exert any influence over these opposition groups and that these groups had been using this ceasefire as an opportunity to regroup and prepare for further offensives against the Syrian government forces.
In a further statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry called the US-led coalition air strikes on the Syrian Army positions somewhere between “gross negligence” and “direct assistance” to ISIS militants as Russia called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting.
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told Rossiya 24 that these indiscriminate airstrikes served the interests of ISIS terrorists and said, “if previously we had suspicions that Al-Nusra Front is protected this way, now, after today’s airstrikes on the Syrian army we come to a really terrifying conclusion for the entire world: The White House is defending IS [Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL], and we demand a full and detailed explanation from Washington. That explanation must be given at the UN Security Council.”
One could argue that it seems more than a coincidence that ISIS launched an offensive in the immediate aftermath of the airstrikes. Equally it would seem reasonable to suggest that the US would have had no choice but to curtail their activities in that area after Russia had given them notification that they were engaging with Syrian government forces. The longstanding issue of US coalition forces’ ineptitude at dealing with IS/ISIS/ISIL is now beyond question, especially given the advances Russia made last autumn in the opening weeks of their engagement with theses group in Syria.
Whatever the reality is, and frankly we are not going to get any admission by the US administration or their forces, it is yet another example of US aggression that was either utter folly or pre-meditated with another purpose in mind. One thing we can be sure of though is it is another nail in the coffin lid of US isolation. The world is increasingly becoming more and more exasperated by the actions of an administration, who are totally at odds with ever increasing numbers of nations across the globe.
Australia has confirmed its aircraft participated in the strike near Syria’s Deir ez-Zor where dozens of Syrian servicemen were killed, SANA reported on Sunday, quoting a statement of the Australian Defense Department. “Australian aircraft were among a number of international aircraft taking part in this Coalition operation,” the statement said.
You seriously have to wonder what Australia is playing at getting involved in an operation thousands of miles from home. Did it not consider the repercussions of its actions for even one second? A staggering level of stupidity.