Syria

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.

***

The Socialist Alliance released the following statement on April 7.

* * *

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.

United States warships in the Mediterranean Sea launched a large cruise missile strike against government-held airfields in Syria on April 7. They fired about 60 Tomahawk missiles on the Shayrat air base near Homs in central Syria as the US government called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to be removed from power.

About 230 people were reported killed in what was thought to be a US-led coalition air strike on an ISIS-held neighbourhood in Mosul, The Independent said on March 22.  

“We were taken from Mosul to Syria. There were thousands of young girls and ISIS members in the ISIS centre we were taken to. Young girls were being raped here. Young girls were forcibly brought and savagely raped, then were made to marry [ISIS members]. Those who didn’t agree were tortured and beaten up.

“We were forced to pray and read the Quran. They wanted us to wear black clothing and cover up our hands with gloves. They would sell the women who didn’t agree to this.”

The scene is one as old as the long history of the Middle East. A child mixes straw and dung to light a fire, some of the straw on his knee. His face is obscured by a beanie so that this child ­– not an infant but still young – could be any child.

Behind the child is a wall. Such structures are common throughout the Middle East, but it seems symbolic. The dribbles of concrete from its construction make the wall, in rural Homs, seem to weep, for this child and for Syria.

Pages

Subscribe to Syria