Obama Plans Aggression in Syria, Escalation in Iraq

August 27th, 2014 - by admin

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Anne Gearan / The Washington Post – 2014-08-27 00:46:59

US Surveillance Flights A Step Toward Expanding War Into Syria

Obama Plans ‘Boots on the Ground’ in Iraq; Claims US Right to Invade Syrian Air Space

Obama Plans ‘Boots on the Ground’ in Iraq; Claims US Right to Invade Syrian Air Space

US Surveillance Flights A Step Toward Expanding War Into Syria
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(August 26, 2014) — Officials confirmed the move toward surveillance flights over ISIS targets in Syria, leaving somewhat open the question of when the US is going to start launching airstrikes against targets inside Syria, expanding the Iraq War across the border.

Yet it’s not really a question of if, but when, as the surveillance flights are clearly the first step toward such attacks. The primary question is how to start launching such attacks without Syrian coordination, since officials want to avoid the appearance of cooperating with Syria.

The questions abound about expanding the war into Syria and are mostly unanswered, with Gen. Dempsey pushing the attacks, and the US already giving targeting intel to Syria’s government for the ISIS war.

Escalation in Iraq is continuing, with the Anbar Provincial governor talking about planned US deployments there. Nothing’s been confirmed yet, but the US seems eager to expand the conflict in several ways, turning the “humanitarian intervention” into a full-scale war spanning multiple countries.

US Rules Out Coordinating with Assad
On Airstrikes against Islamists in Syria

Anne Gearan / The Washington Post

(August 26, 2014) — The Obama administration has ruled out the possibility of coordinating any US airstrikes in Syria with President Bashar al-Assad’s government, forcing US officials to either design a campaign that would evade Syrian air defenses or coordinate it with Assad through a third party.

Despite the shared US and Syrian interest in defeating Islamist militants in the region, there will be no cooperation with Assad, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday. “We’re not going to ask for permission from the Syrian regime,” she said.

With top US officials describing the Islamic State militant group as a growing threat to international security, some form of stepped-up US action appears increasingly likely and could include an expansion of the American air war from Iraq into Syria. Whether done in concert with Assad or not, airstrikes would be a strategic benefit to Assad more than three years after the start of the uprising against his rule.

Airstrikes, even if officially opposed by Assad as a violation of Syrian sovereignty, would also put Obama and Assad on the same side of a war Obama has been loath to join.

The White House stressed Tuesday that Obama has made no decision on whether to conduct airstrikes in Syria, even amid signs of stepped-up US activity in the region, including his authorization of surveillance flights there.

Syria’s foreign minister warned Monday against unilateral US strikes but welcomed a broader regional approach to fighting the militants, opening the possibility that the administration could rely on partners to coordinate any attacks. US officials said there has been no such coordination to date and none is planned, though they did not rule it out.

Any unilateral action would mean testing Syria’s air defenses or the response of Assad’s forces.

While the US military has penetrated Syrian airspace on at least one occasion since the start of the civil war — during a failed bid earlier this year to rescue journalist James Foley and other Americans being held by the Islamic State — that raid involved the use of modified Black Hawk helicopters.

The helicopters are designed to fly into hostile air space and conceivably could have been flown at very low altitudes to avoid radar detection. Surveillance aircraft, however, operate high and slow, and could be shot down by both the Syrian air force and the country’s air defense grid.

In addition to fielding a moderately capable air force, Syria possesses advanced surface-to-air missile systems like the SA-22 Greyhound, according to Military Balance, a publication issued by the International Institute of Strategic Studies that documents foreign military capabilities. The SA-22 can hit targets up to 65,000 feet, believed to be the maximum altitude of the high-flying Global Hawk.

The Pentagon has begun identifying potential targets, but it is not clear how soon any US airstrikes might come.

“This is a serious threat from a serious group of terrorists, and we need to stay mindful of doing what we need to do to protect American citizens at home and abroad,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Tuesday. “We’re not going to hold ourselves to geographic boundaries in order to accomplish that job.”

Iraq Escalation: US Troops Headed Back to Fallujah
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(August 14, 2014) — Having ditched the Yazidi rescue pretext for the new US war in Iraq, after discovering there weren’t really many Yazidis to rescue in the first place, the US has reportedly set its sights on the Anbar Province, site of some of the bloodiest US battles during the previous occupation.

In an interview with Reuters, Anbar Governor Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi confirmed meetings with US diplomats and senior military officials, and secured a promise of not only air strikes against ISIS holdings in the province, but a military presence on the ground.

“No date was decided but it will be very soon and there will be a presence for the Americans in the western area,” Dulaimi confirmed. ISIS controls materially all of the Anbar Province at this point.

Anbar was the first major territorial gain for ISIS in Iraq, way back in January when they seized Fallujah and Ramadi, the main cities in the province. Since then, they’ve expanded, and were believed to have recently taken the Haditha Dam, one of the last sites outside their control in the province.

The US launched several major invasions of Fallujah during the last war, in both 2003 and in 2004, During Operation Phantom Fury, the last of the sieges, the US Marines invaded the city in a battle that left an estimated 1,500 insurgents and 800 civilians dead, along with 95 US troops.

Anbar is also the site of the city of Haditha, where in 2005 US Marines carried out the notorious Haditha Massacre, where they killed 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, in response to an IED explosion that killed a solider near the city.

In addition to being the ISIS heartland in Iraq, the checkered history of US military operations in the major cities suggest troops will not be particularly welcomed in this new invasion. The Pentagon has yet to confirm the details of the plan, but Governor Dulaimi’s comments suggest it is already a done deal, and will begin with airstrikes before expanding to a ground war.

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