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‘Role of US in Syria unnecessary, they should withdraw as soon as possible’

‘Role of US in Syria unnecessary, they should withdraw as soon as possible’
Syrian President Bashar Assad said he sees no role for the US or its coalition in Syria as long as they are supporting terrorists, explains Elizabeth Murray, a former US Deputy National Intelligence officer.

At least 40 civilians have reportedly been killed in a US-led bombing raid on the Syrian city of Raqqa, according to local sources.

The strikes apparently targeted a residential area in the north of the city, which is ISIS' main stronghold in Syria.

Women and children are said to be among the dead. According to reports, the number of dead could rise further, with people feared trapped under rubble.

RT:  The US military refused to acknowledge those reported civilian deaths. Do you think they should be more transparent about what is happening in Raqqa?

Elizabeth Murray: Clearly, it is in the interests of the US and their coalition to downplay these casualties. However, we know from experience that these casualties are only going to mount as the US seeks to take Raqqa from ISIS. With 200,000 civilians at risk, you have to wonder, what is the price of this liberation. This is the same situation that we’ve seen in Iraq up in Mosul, where the civilian population, the infrastructure there has just been devastated.

I think it is also important to recall that just yesterday the democratically elected President of Syria Bashar Assad specifically said he sees no role at all for the US or its coalition in Syria as long as they are supporting terrorists. Of course, he’s referring to the ongoing supply of US weapons to groups like Nusra and Al-Qaeda, many of which have found their way into the hands of ISIS.

We also know the US cynically used ISIS earlier to try to overthrow Assad. So this is becoming out of control with too many players on the ground. It is also true the US has been bombing areas of southern Raqqa, where the Syrian army is stationed, and there have been casualties there.

So with the US uninvited and killing civilians in Raqqa, the situation could easily spiral out of control. I think it is well-known also that the Syrian government, along with its allies in the region, and also Russia has been doing an excellent job routing the terrorist problem in Syria. So again, it is important to note that the US is carrying on these activities in Raqqa ostensibly to liberate it, but of course, we’ll have to see what the US agenda is in the area afterward.

RT:  Back in June, the UN voiced alarm over the ‘staggering loss of life’ from US air strikes in Raqqa. And yet they've only escalated since then. What is the US end-game in Raqqa, do you think?

EM: Their allies in that area are the Kurds, and the Kurds have their own interest, even though I don’t believe that is a majority-Kurdish area. The problem is that after ISIS is routed there will be a situation of instability. It is true the US is apparently trying to train 3,500 militia to stabilize the region, as some kind of stability force there, but that is not a sovereign region since it belongs to Syria. It is only a matter of time before that force is going to need to deal with the government of Assad. There is no legitimate or acceptable role for the US in the region. As I said earlier Syrian allies are going to find a job, and they are already in southern Raqqa working to liberate ISIS.

It is obvious the US probably wants to maintain some kind of presence, but it is not wanted in the region. If the pressure becomes too much for the Kurds, it is very possible the US could just pull the rug out from under them and withdraw their support, as they have done in the past in other areas, like in Iraq – and just leave the Kurds to their fate. Kurds are obviously facing pressure from the Turkish side as well. If their American allies leave, then they will have no choice anyway but to do business with the government. The role of the US is unnecessary, and they should withdraw from Syria as soon as possible.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.