For the last several years, onE has wondered how long it would take. How much would the military establishment take before they sent troops into the fight in Syria? And though the administration has vowed that they had no intention to put boots on the ground, there has been no doubt that this would be the final outcome. Now as Russia has entered the fight, we see that America has raised the stakes.
This is the military equivalent to the camel slipping his nose into the tent. Once this begins then it will not be long before the U.S. will have a full military presence in Syria. And just like Iraq and Afghanistan before, we must ask the hard questions. What are our stated goals? What is our exit strategy? What is the real plan here?
The problem that the U.S. faces in Syria is multifaceted. First, we see that the U.S. plan has failed. The U.S. backed rebels have failed to push either Assad or ISIS out of the country. They have also failed to bring the support that was originally thought. Many of the so called moderates have either switched to ISIS or given their U.S. equipment to Al Qaeda.
There is also the problem America faces with Russia and Assad. Russia has openly shown America’s lack of commitment to fight in or for Syria. They have repeatedly backed down from the Russians. This has weakened our position and strengthened Assad and ISIS.
Obama’s decision to send Special Forces into Syria is being widely viewed as a US military escalation in the country. The troop dispatch also signals that the US trying to forestall Russian successes in wiping out Washington’s regime-change assets in Syria.
In short, the US Special Forces are being used as “human shields” to curb Russian air strikes against anti-government mercenaries, many of whom are instrumental in Washington’s regime-change objective in Syria.
First of all, we need to view a host of developments, including the hastily convened “peace talks” in Vienna, as a response by the US and its allies to the game-changing military intervention by Russia. That intervention, beginning on September 30, has not only dealt massive blows to militants, it has completely changed the balance of forces to give the Assad government the upper hand in the war against foreign-backed extremists. That, in turn, has sent the US-led powers trying to topple Damascus into disarray
Recall the scattered reactions from Washington and its allies, including Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. At first, Washington tried to rubbish Vladimir Putin’s order to aid his Syrian ally with airstrikes as “doomed to fail”.
Then there were overblown, unverified, claims of civilian casualties from Russian strikes, plus there were American claims that Russian cruise missiles had gone wildly astray, hitting Iran. There was also much angst over Russia striking “moderate rebels” instead of the Islamic State terror network. All such accusations, encouraged with Western media amplification, were designed to undermine Russia’s military operation.
Another seeming knee-jerk response came from Turkey and rightwing politicians and pundits in the US which revived talks about the creation of “safe havens” in northern Syria, ostensibly to protect civilian refugees, but also tacitly and more importantly, to give cover to “rebel” groups from Russian air strikes and Syrian government ground troops.
None of these reactions have gained credibility despite Western media hype. On the contrary, it soon became clear that Russia’s military intervention in Syria was a masterstroke by Putin, wiping out large swathes of the anti-government mercenaries, stabilizing the Assad government, and winning much popular support both within Syria and across the Middle East, and indeed around the world.
Last week, America’s top military official, General Joseph F Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee that Russia’s air support had changed everything. “The balance of forces right now are in Assad's advantage,” he said.
This is the context in which to interpret the latest, surprise move by Obama to send Special Forces into Syria. It is more about inhibiting Russian success in destroying the sundry anti-regime forces on the ground than about either “helping the fight against Islamic State” as claimed, or about misgivings of a large-scale American invasion.
But here is perhaps the significant part of the story. “The move could potentially put the American troops in the cross hairs of Russia,” reports the New York Times. Significantly, too, the Pentagon will not be informing the Russian military of the exact whereabouts of its ground personnel.
These assets include an array of jihadist mercenary brigades, which the US and its allies have invested billions of dollars in for the objective of regime change in Syria. The misnomer of “moderate rebels” belies abundant evidence that the mercenaries include Al Qaeda-linked terror groups, including Islamic State. CIA supplies of anti-tank TOW missiles as well as Toyota jeeps are just a glimpse of the foreign covert-sponsorship.
This perspective most likely explains the hastily convened “peace conference” in Vienna. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s apparent concern to “stop the bloodshed” does not seem credible as the primary motive. Why the concern now after nearly five years of bloodshed?
It is not about a “quest for peace” as the BBC reported. The move is more credibly about Washington and its allies maneuvering to give their regime-change assets in Syria a reprieve from Russia’s firepower. One of the main points agreed in Vienna this weekend is the implementation of a “nation-wide ceasefire”.
Another indicator of what is really going on are reports this week of the large-scale airlifting of jihadist mercenary groups out of Syria. According to senior Syrian army intelligence, up to 500 mercenaries were flown to Yemen onboard Turkish, Qatari and Emirati planes. The fighters were brought to Yemen’s southern city of Aden from where they were dispatched to battle zones inside Yemen by the American-coordinated Saudi coalition. The US-Saudi coalition is waging war in Yemen to reinstall the regime of exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi ousted by Houthi rebels earlier this year.
So what we are seeing here is a concerted effort by Washington and its allies to stem their covert military losses in Syria. Sending in American Special Forces – a seemingly dramatic U-turn by Obama to put boots on the ground in Syria – is just one part of a wider effort to forestall Russian success in stabilizing Syria. These US forces are not about a “deepening of American involvement in a war [Obama] has tried to avoid”, as the New York Times would have us believe. They are being sent in to act as human shields against Russian airstrikes.
The putative ceasefire under a so-called peace process is another element of the US-led salvage operation. The real agenda is about giving Western, Turk and Arab-sponsored jihadists a space to regroup, and if needs be flown out of the Syrian theatre to resume their imperialist function in Yemen and, no doubt, elsewhere when required.
The United States' decision to send troops into Syria is an act of aggression because it does not have the government's agreement, a Syrian member of parliament said Saturday.
Sharif Shehadeh told The Associated Press that the troops will have no effect on the ground, but that Washington wants to say it is present in Syria.
"What has happened to make America realize, after five years, that it should send between 30 and 50 military advisers?" asked Shehadeh, referring to the start of the country's crisis in March 2011 that has since killed more than 250,000 people.
The decision to send U.S. troops to Syria comes a month after Russia began launching airstrikes against insurgents in the country. Russia's airstrikes were agreed upon with the Syrian government.
"When America sends ground forces into Syrian territories without an agreement with the Syrian government it becomes an intervention and aggression," Shehadeh said by telephone. "Will America allow Russian ground forces to go into America without an agreement? I think the answer is no."
The airliner's flight data recorders were discovered on Saturday night and have only minor damage.
"There is minor technical damage. But there was no thermal impact as the Egyptian representatives say," Maksim Sokolov said.
Search and recovery operations are underway after a passenger plane belonging to a small Russian airline, flying from the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh to St. Petersburg crashed over Sinai. There were 224 people on board.
- 13:42 GMTEgypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said the investigation into the plane crash could take months, Reuters reported."This is a complicated matter and requires advanced technologies and broad investigations that could take months," he told army recruits in a televised speech.
- 13:40 GMTEgyptian investigators said it could take days to determine the cause of the jet’s crash, sources told Reuters.
- 13:19 GMTThe investigators have questioned the crew who flew on Airbus-321 on September 30, the before the tragedy, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.
- 12:53 GMTAn international commission, including specialists from Egypt, Russia and France, has begun examining the contents of one of the black boxes, an official from the Egyptian Prosecutor's Office said, as cited by TASS.
- 12:36 GMTWatch RT's latest report on Sinai plane crash
Islamic State announced through its semi-official website that it was responsible for the crash in the Sinai of a Russian passenger plane that killed 217 people.
Russian and Egyptian officials dismiss the claims as "ridiculous."
"The fighters of the Islamic State were able to down a Russian plane over Sinai province that was carrying over 220 Russian crusaders,” the statement said. “They were all killed, thanks be to God.”The statement was also posted on the Aamaq website, which acts as a semi-official news agency for ISIS.Egyptian and Russian officials have dismissed the notion that ISIS shot down the plane.“This is ridiculous. The plane was flying at an altitude of 31,000 feet, out of the range of any weapons on the ground,” a high-ranking Egyptian military intelligence official told BuzzFeed News.Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said the claim “cannot be considered reliable,” according to the Russian Interfax news agency.Egyptian media are reporting that the crash was caused by a “technical failure.”Flight 92-68 operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia took off from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, headed for St. Petersburg.It crashed into Egypt’s Sinai peninsula on Saturday, killing all on board.The plane was carrying 200 adult passengers, 17 children and seven crew. There were no survivors.
What is disturbing about this claim is not so much that it's bogus, but rather that it's a clear warning that if they have the ability to shoot down a passenger plane, they will do so.
There is little doubt that ISIS has surface to air missiles capable of hitting aircraft like helicopters and low flying fighter jets. They've already shot down several Syrian helicopters and may have downed a jet fighter as well.
Downing a passenger jet requires more than a shoulder fired missile. But ISIS continues to overrun military bases and may find themselves in possession of very sophisticated anti-aircraft missile systems. The nightmare scenario of a terrorist group having the capability to shoot down passenger jets could come to pass and we wouldn't know anything about it until they used them.
A working team led by Russian Minister of Emergencies Vladimir Puchkov began operations at the Kogalymavia A321 crash site in Egypt, a ministry representative said during a briefing on Sunday.
"A working team led by head of the Russian Ministry of Emergencies Vladimir Puchkov is working at the A321 crash site. The rescue workers are going to sweep over 16 square kilometers of terrain," he said.
The source pointed out that some bodies were found a long distance from the crash site. All of the bodies were delivered to the Kibrit airbase to await transportation to Cairo.
"We found a three-year-old girl eight kilometres from the scene" of the main wreckage, he told AFP from a military base in El-Hasana, around 60 kilometres from the crash site.