The US tries to keep the Islamic State alive
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The US tries to keep the Islamic State alive

Syrian Army T-55 near Daraa

The Syrian Arab Army and allied forces scored a major victory liberating Damascus and its countryside, bringing peace and security to its citizens. After clearing East Ghouta of radical Takfiri terrorists, southern parts of Damascus ware liberated from the so-called Islamic State's gang (IS). The reconciliation process proved to be successful in the Rastan area, in Homs province. Terrorists and some of their family members were transferred to Idlib, the terrorist's “safe haven”, but the majority of its citizens, as well as some members of terrorist groups who took the opportunity to reconcile, remained in their towns and villages. Since a huge number of military personnel are now available for other fronts, all eyes are on the Syrian armed forces for their next military campaigns.

Contrary to claims from Western pro-terrorist “experts” and “think-tanks” that the Syrian Arab Army faces a shortage of military personnel and soldiers, the late May demobilization of up to 15,000 Syrian soldiers from 102nd Recruitment Class, who served in the ranks of Syrian armed forces for eight years, proves the opposite. Using simple logic we can conclude that any military force in the world who are engaged in a warfare wouldn't make such move unless they have suitable replacements. Was it unexpected? Probably it was, since the force of 15,000 strong and well-experienced soldiers during wartime makes significant power. But after eight years of brutal war on Syria, the demobilization of those soldiers is well-deserved. In any case, as Al-Masdar reported back in March, some of them will join the National Defence Forces in their communities, and they will remain as reserves.

Eastern Homs and Deir Ez Zor provinces remain a burden for Syrian and allied forces because of presence of “Islamic State” gangsters who are hiding deep inside the Syrian desert. On several occasions, Russian officials accused the United States of aiding “Islamic State” terrorists, or simply not fighting them in areas which are connected to legitimate Syrian forces. On May 27, four Russian soldiers were killed in surprise attack on their position in eastern Homs. Day later, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov stated, as reported by Russia Today:

“We have plenty of reports about strange things happening in the Al-Tanf area. This area has no particular military value in terms of fighting terrorism. And in practical terms, we see a rise of presence in the region of militant groups, including those we believe to be connected with Islamic State in this or that way, including in the Rukban refugee camp.”

Since the IS terrorists never dare to attack the Al-Tanf area, and as we know the ideology of so-called “moderate rebels” is not much different from them, suspicion of collusion between the US forces and IS is valid. It wouldn't be the first time, since the United State's Air Forces along with warplanes of Denmark, Australia and United Kingdom already attacked the positions of the Syrian Arab Army on Deir Ez Zor’s Thardah Mountain September 17, 2016, directly aiding IS forces who took the Syrian Army's position right after the attack. They might claim it was a “mistake”, but the fact remains the US acted as the “Islamic State's” air forces in their illegal attack on solely legitimate forces inside Syria.

Even former US Secretary of State John Kerry admitted, in a leaked recording of a private meeting with Syrian “opposition” representatives at the UN, that they used the “Islamic State” to pressure Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Kerry's words should never be forgotten:

"The reason Russia came in is because ISIL was getting stronger, Daesh was threatening the possibility of going to Damascus and so forth. And that’s why Russia came in. Because they didn’t want a Daesh government and they supported Assad."

And we know that this was growing. We were watching. We saw that Daesh was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage, you know, that Assad might then negotiate. Instead of negotiating, you've got Assad, you've got Putin supporting him.”

Keeping IS alive is of utmost interest to the United States, so they can justify their illegal presence in Syria. But in the end, the US military forces are going to leave. The so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) which are formed with predominantly Kurdish forces are not reliable partners, and they will never be accepted as a “ruling” party, especially not by Arab tribes. Taking the oil and gas fields east of the Euphrates river gave the SDF some leverage, but it is just temporarily. This is an additional way for the US to put pressure on Syrian leadership, and to harm the vast majority of Syrian population living in government controlled areas. Thankfully, many gas fields in Homs province are in the government’s control, and the distribution of natural gas is more or less stabilized. But it is far from ideal. With the fields east of the Euphrates, Syria would be self-sufficient, which is not the case today.

Remaining pockets of IS gangsters eventually will be cleared. The Syrian Arab Army is massing its troops for offensives in Qunaitra and Daraa. There will be the crucial battles. It is imperative to liberate all southwestern areas before going to north and east.

The SDF can enjoy the US support for now, and they should think very carefully about their next steps. They face a simple choice – to be the problem, or to be the part of the solution. Qunaitra and Daraa will be liberated. The question is what will come next.

Matija Lukač

Matija Lukač is a pro-Syrian activist and researcher of the Syrian conflict; he is also a Special Assistant and Contributor for the Middle East and Syria at the GlobalCIR website.