US strike on Syrian pro-govt forces: ‘Aggression masquerading itself as defense’
The US-led coalition inside Syria has said it destroyed pro-government forces that entered the so-called 'deconfliction zone' established around a coalition training facility.
“Despite previous warnings, pro-regime forces entered the agreed-upon de-confliction zone with a tank, artillery, anti-aircraft weapons, armed technical vehicles and more than 60 soldiers posing a threat to coalition and partner forces based at the At Tanf Garrison,” the coalition said in a statement.
Moscow rejected US justification for the attack, saying it does not recognize any 'deconfliction zone' declared by the US unilaterally. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that such zones were different from 'de-escalation zones,' which Russia, Turkey, and Iran are in the process of establishing with the full support of the United Nations Security Council and the government of Syria.
RT discussed the incident with analysts.
“The US calls its air coalition 'Inherent Resolve,' but a more accurate term for it would be ‘inherent contradiction,” says Rick Sterling, investigative journalist and a member of the Syria Solidarity Movement.
“The US says it supports Syrian sovereignty and yet it’s effectively taking control of a great chunk of Syria and claiming the Syrian army can’t go there,” he said.
“The US coalition claims that their primary goal is to fight ISIS. Yet, here they are attacking the Syrian army and their allies which are the major force fighting ISIS. So, it’s full of contradictions, and really we can’t trust anything that Washington, of the Pentagon, says: they say one thing, but they do something else.”
He went on to say that the Astana agreement between Russia, Turkey and Iran “established some deconfliction zones, but here we have the US claiming the right to attack the Syrian forces.”
“In other words, they are taking the conflict to the Syrian army, which is just entering this area. It is aggression masquerading itself as defense,” Sterling told RT.
As to what can come out of a UN Security Council meeting, he said that the body is divided, in his view, two of its permanent members, Britain and France, will not support a resolution.
“Basically part of the UNSC has been violating the UN Charter by actively supporting of proxy war against the sovereign state of Syria. They need to take it to the UNSC. I think it is important that Russia and other people around the world try to restore international law. So it needs to happen, but unfortunately, we’re not there yet – where we can restore international law. We just to have to point out that what the US is doing is a clear violation of international law and the UN Charter.”
US ‘salami tactics’ of Syrian slicing territory
Former US Army judge advocate, Todd Pierce agrees the US can’t justify strikes in a foreign state where they haven’t been invited.
“They entirely depend upon people being gullible enough to accept that idea that [the US] is there legally instead of illegally – which we are…So no, there is justification for us being there,” he told RT.
To understand the situation better, everything should be put in context, Pierce said.
“That goes back to 2003 with the Iraq invasion. And out of that, as we know, came the birth of ISIS – out of our detention prisoner camps…As General Wesley Clark has said, we had a plan from the very beginning, right after 9/11, to destroy seven Arab countries. And we’re now on what – on number three or number four? So the point about why we’re in that particular place - because it’s on Syrian territory, but near the Iraqi border, but also near Iran -answers a big part of the question,” he said.
According to Pierce, the US is using “salami tactics” in Syria.
“We’re slicing off a piece here and piece there and expanding our territory, and anyone who approaches, even though they have a legal right to be there – as the Assad forces - we’re deeming them to be the enemy and threatening to us. So that we don’t get this dislodged from that point,” he said.
‘US has intention to stay’
According to Michael Maloof, a former Pentagon official, the US intends to remain in the area. Commenting on how Washington is defining the 'deconfliction zone,' he said:
“It’s probably an area where they occupy, and it’s hopefully meant to be some kind of a safe zone. But in this case, it’s really meant to be an area where they are training, where they have their own forces and also to basically take over territory that they can ultimately use in the future as a bargaining chip with the government of Syria. The intent is not to preserve the government of Bashar Assad; the US intends, in my view, to actually occupy that eastern part of Syria, whether it’s at At Tanf or up in the Kurdish area in order to maintain perhaps a semi-permanent base, particularly for a post-war stabilization effort.”
Maloof added that the US “is not doing all of this just to go in and then leave again as they did in Iraq.”
“I think there is an intention to stay,” he said, adding that it’s done without permission of the Syrian government. “This is something that politically is going to have to be dealt with at very high levels between the US, Russia, and Syria.”
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.