Syria

The flags of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) and Shengal Women's Units (YJS) were planted in the city centre of Raqqa, which had been the capital city of ISIS, on September 14.

ISIS still controls about 20% of the city, but the symbolic importance of this event reflects a very real change in the situation in Syria.

Flanked by military commanders, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was in the nation’s second-largest city, Mosul, on July 10 to announce the city’s liberation from ISIS.

An end to the three-year-long rule by the extremely violent and authoritarian terrorist group is obviously good news for the city's residents. But it seems unlikely the group’s defeat will mean an end to their suffering, which began long before ISIS captured the city in June 2014.

Arab women have announced the foundation of “Martyr Amara Arab Women’s Battalion” under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), ANF News said on July 12.

Formed in 2015, the SDF is an alliance of progressive armed groups — the largest of which are the Kurdish-based People’s Defence Units (YPG) and Women’s Defence Units (YPJ), although including a growing number of other groups  — that is subordinate to the grassroots structures of the Democratic Federation of North Syria.

It was in the autumn of 2014, only months after Islamic State (ISIS) achieved huge territorial gains inside Syria and Iraq, committing genocidal and femicidal massacres, that a revolutionary silver lining arose from the little-known town of Kobane in Syria’s north.

Having overrun Mosul, Tel Afar and Sinjar in Iraq, as well as a vast expanse of territory inside Syria, ISIS prepared to launch an attack on the north of Syria, known by Kurds as Rojava.

What ISIS did not anticipate in Kobane was that it would encounter an enemy of a different kind – an organised, political community that was ready to defend itself courageously by all means necessary, and with a worldview that turns ISIS’s death ideology on its head.

Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital in Syria, is on the verge of falling. The rapid advance of the left-wing Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) since they entered the city on June 6 contrasts with the slower advance of forces of the Iraqi and Iraqi Kurdistan governments in Mosul, the ISIS capital in Iraq, which the pro-government forces entered in February.

However, the June 18 downing of a Syrian fighter jet by a US war plane, after the former attacked SDF positions near Raqqa, is just one indication that eliminating ISIS will not end the violent multi-sided war in Syria that spawned it.

An ISIS attack on May 2 near the Rajim Salibi border crossing between Iraq and Syria left 37 refugees dead and at least 20 injured. Victims were as young as three months. “The attack was repelled [by] the intervention by Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] fighters,” Firat News Agency reported.

Most of the refugees were fleeing the Iraqi city of Mosul, which for months has been the scene of heavy fighting as Western, Russian, Iranian, Iraqi government forces and allied militias try to retake the city from ISIS.

Turkish war planes launched air strikes against Syria and Iraq on April 24.

For months local and foreign forces have been closing in on the main ISIS strongholds: the cities of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq. Turkey is a NATO member and recognised as an ally against ISIS by the US-led coalition of Western powers in Iraq and Syria, that includes Australia.

But the Turkish air strikes did not target ISIS. Instead, they were aimed at the terror group’s most consistent opponents — left-wing Kurdish-led revolutionary forces.

During last year’s presidential election campaign, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump favoured a more militarised foreign policy. They differed on the main target: Clinton aimed at Russia, while Trump singled out China.

Clinton wanted to continue the policy of both Republican and Democratic administrations since the collapse of the Soviet Union of steadily expanding NATO up to Russia’s borders in Europe. She also proposed challenging Russia in Syria.

US president Donald Trump has said an April 4 chemical weapon attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s Idlib province that killed more than 70 people with air strikes against Syrian military targets.

Written days before the Idlib atrocity and the US air strikes, The Intercept co-editor Glenn Greenwald looks at Trump’s escalation of the “war on terror” in the region.

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The Socialist Alliance released the following statement on April 7.

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Socialist Alliance condemns the unilateral use of force by US President Donald Trump against Syria on April 7. 

The pretext for Trump's missile attack was a deadly chemical attack on civilians, which the US has blamed on the Bashaaar al Assad regime, rather than await the outcome of an investigation into who was responsible.

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