‘US is erratic on Syria’
Top Pentagon officials spoke out in defense of a US bombing raid on pro-government forces in Syria on Thursday, which Moscow called a violation of an agreement on de-escalation zones in the country.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis said the convoy targeted in the strike is believed to have been Iran-backed.
RT: The defense secretary described the convoy that was hit in the air strike as “Iranian directed.” What kind of forces do you think he could be referring to?
Ivan Eland: He could be referring to Shia militias which are working with the Assad regime and which are not Iranian soldiers per se, but they may have some Iranian advisers. Just like the US is advising the Kurds in Syria and some of the Arab forces.
RT: The US strike happened inside one of the four de-confliction zones agreed by Russia, Turkey, and Iran. Russia called it a violation of that agreement. Do you think it has put the deal under threat?
IE: I have no way of knowing whether the troops were threatening the US forces or not. But the Pentagon is claiming that… This is one of those incidents that will probably not trash US-Russian cooperation in that area. There are incidents all the time where people get into the wrong zones for whatever reason. And I guess the US forces felt threatened by this and that is why the airstrike occurred. These situations are messy and I think that it is still possible for Russia and the US to work together in Syria, and these de-confliction zones, I think, are a good idea… The only way you are ever going to salvage Syria, and salvage Iraq for that matter, is to partition them up and let the ethnic groups run their own areas.
It seems that the Americans are going off to anything that threatens some of the forces they are backing on the ground. It doesn’t change their policy insofar as they don’t want to do regime change in Syria, that is pretty clear. But at the same time, they don’t want the balance to be upset. They still believe there is some moderate opposition they are supporting on the ground and they don’t want the Syrian military to win completely either. They want to retain the status quo where some parts of Syria are controlled by the so-called opposition while the government cannot control all the areas it wants to. – military analyst Kamal Alam
RT: Is there enough public communication between Russia, Iran, and Turkey at the behest of Syria and the US? They are acting quite independently. Is it the case in reality?
IE: I think, yes, there could be better communication, and certainly, the US could be more involved in this. I think the US is under some pressure at home because of all the allegations of the Russian interference in the US election and colluding with the Trump campaign… Also, the US regime is very erratic in its behavior. I think you have to take those things into consideration as well.
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