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      U.S. Widening Military Intervention in Syria

      By Nita Palmer

      For the past five years, the people of Syria have been battling for their country and for their lives. Since 2011, the country has been torn apart by a so-called ‘civil war’ between the Syrian government and opposition forces and terrorist organizations supported by the US and their allies. Four hundred and seventy thousand people have died (Syrian Centre for Policy Research), and nearly half the country’s citizens have been forced to flee their homes. Over six million are refugees within Syria, still facing the horrors of war, while more than three million others have fled to squalid refugee camps in neighbouring countries or have joined the exodus to Europe. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has called this “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era”.

      A Regressive Transformation

      Just a few short years ago, Syria was one of the most developed countries the Middle East. Syrians had a life expectancy comparable with that of many developed countries, and health care and education systems which were some of the most advanced in the region. Today, life expectancy has plummeted from 76 to 56 years of age, according to the UN. More than 40% of the country’s hospitals have been destroyed or are inoperative, as has 90% of its pharmaceutical industry, which once provided many important medicines for Syrians (The Independent, 2013). Thousands of doctors have fled the country, and remaining hospitals and clinics are overburdened with war wounded. Thousands are now dying of treatable conditions due to the shortage of doctors and medicines, with children and the elderly facing the highest risk. As well, the destruction of sanitation systems has caused an outbreak of diseases such as typhoid and hepatitis, which until now were things of the past.

      Syria’s education system has been destroyed as well, with less than 50% of Syrian children able to attend school. Many have already missed several years of schooling. Save The Children reports that Syria now has the second worst rate of school attendance in the world – a drastic drop from an almost 100% enrollment rate before the war. This crisis will impact Syria for years to come, with future generations of doctors, teachers, engineers and other professionals set years behind in education, if they are even able to complete their schooling.

      In addition to these horrors of war, many Syrians are living under the reign of terror of Daesh (ISIS/ISIL). Those living in Daesh-controlled areas of the country are in many cases not even receiving basic aid from international organizations, as groups such as Medcins Sans Frontieres have removed their staff over concerns for their safety.

      Civil War or Proxy War?

      The current crisis in Syria has been called a ‘civil war’. The West has blamed the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad for the crisis, labelling Assad as a brutal dictator who is trying to crush any opposition.

      However, from the very beginning this was not simply an internal conflict within the country. The US has been creating and fuelling the war by arming and supporting factions in the country who are opposed to the Syrian government and President Assad. Although the $500 million Pentagon program to support and train the so-called ‘moderate rebels’ was cancelled last year, the New York Times reported in October 2015 that the CIA was still carrying out ‘significantly larger’ programs to arm anti-government forces, including supplying them with anti-tank missiles.

      Of course, many of the ‘moderate rebels’ that the US supports are not moderate at all. US allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia have openly supported the al- Nusra front – a group with close ties to al-Qaeda. The Independent reported last year on French intelligence reports which revealed that the US had been deliberately avoiding carrying out air strikes against Daesh when they might endanger fighters from the al-Nusra Front.

      The US policy of supporting any group which opposed President Assad regardless of their ideology resulted in the inevitable rise of Daesh, which currently controls nearly half the country. In fact, a leaked Pentagon document from 2012 reveals that the US ruling establishment was fully aware of the likelihood of an ultra-conservative Salafist terrorist organization such as Daesh coming to rise.

      “If the situation unravels, there is a possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria... and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want in order to isolate the Syrian regime...” the document states. Of course, the US was at the time and continues to be one of the ‘supporting powers to the opposition’, along with Canada, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other US allies.

      U.S. Expands Direct Intervention

      After five years of fomenting this war which allowed Daesh to gain strength, the US has now announced that they will be intervening directly to stop the monster which they have created. On April 25, US President Obama announced the deployment of an additional 250 US Special Forces troops to Syria, increasing the total official number of US soldiers in the country to 300. The announcement came despite earlier promises from Obama that there would be no US ‘boots on the ground’ in the fight against Daesh in Syria. The deployment of these troops comes in addition to airstrikes against Daesh targets which the US and their allies (including Canada) have been carrying out since 2014.

      Officially, US forces will not be involved in direct combat against Daesh, but will be there to ‘train, advise, and assist’ rebel forces who are fighting the terrorist group as well as the Syrian government. However, many longtime US military veterans have pointed out that there is little practical difference between ‘special forces’ and ‘combat forces’.

      This deployment of troops was condemned by the Syrian government an act of aggression and ‘a blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty’. Indeed, these troops are not there to defeat Daesh – that would be an impossible task for just 250 soldiers. The troops have been sent to Syria to lay the groundwork for further direct intervention by the US, and ultimately a full scale military intervention.

      What is the U.S. Goal in Syria if Not to Defeat Daesh?

      The primary goal of the US government in Syria has never been to defeat Daesh. Before Daesh became established in Syria, the US had its sights set on getting rid of the independent Syrian government and President Assad, as well as to destabilize the country and allow for ongoing intervention. This pattern has been repeated throughout the Middle East and North Africa over the last decade – in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and beyond. US opposition to the Syrian government was never a question of ‘defending human rights’ – look at the human rights crisis which has been created by the US support for their ‘moderate rebels’! The problem with the Syrian government for the US is its status as an independent government which has not allied itself with the United States. Their intervention in Syria – as well as in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the region – is part of their plan to regain control over important and profitable trade markets as well as get a strategic upper hand over rising economic powers such as Russia and China.

      What is the Solution?

      A resolution to the crisis and internal divisions in Syria cannot come without first defeating the brutal terrorists like Daesh and al-Nusra Front. This can only be accomplished through a military campaign coordinated with the Syrian government. By aiding the ‘rebels’ and demanding the removal of President Assad, the US is destabilizing the country further and creating a vacuum of power which will allow even greater space for Daesh and al-Nusra to expand their influence. The US and their allies should remove all troops from the country immediately and cease air strikes. The people of Syria and the Syrian government must be allowed to determine their own future and with whom they will form an alliance to defeat the terrorists.

      If we want to help the Syrian people and stop the expansion of these brutal terrorist groups, we must demand an end to imperialist interventions and US-backed terrorism in their country.

      No War on Syria!
      US Out of Syria Now!

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