Obama Authorizes Airstrikes On Assad Troops
August 04, 2015 "Information
- The US president has reportedly authorized
the Air Force to protect Syrian rebels trained by Washington to
fight against Islamic State by bombing any force attacking them,
including Syrian regular troops.
Thus the US may become involved in the Syrian
civil war on the rebel side.
The change was first reported by US officials
speaking on condition of anonymity with the Wall Street Journal
Sunday. The first airstrikes to protect American trainees in Syria
have already taken place on Friday, July 31, when the US Air Force
bombed unidentified militants who attacked the compound of the
So far the fighter jets of the anti-Islamic State
(IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) US-led coalition have been bombing jihadist
targets in Syria’s north and the national air defense units were
turning a blind eye to foreign military aircraft in their airspace.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama’s decision
reportedly involves inflicting airstrikes against any force that
attacks the Syrian rebel armed force being trained by American
instructors and armed on money from the US budget, with the
officially-proclaimed aim of dealing with the advances of IS.
“For offensive operations, it’s ISIS only. But
if attacked, we’ll defend them against anyone who’s attacking them,”
a senior military official told the Wall
Street Journal on Sunday. “We’re not
looking to engage the regime, but we’ve made a commitment to help
defend these people.”
Neither the Pentagon nor the White House
officially commented on the decision about the new broader rules of
engagement, Reuters reports. So far the US has been avoiding direct
confrontation with the forces of President Bashar Assad.
“We won't get into the specifics of our rules
of engagement, but have said all along that we would take the steps
necessary to ensure that these forces could successfully carry out
their mission," said White House National
Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey, stressing that so far
only US-trained forces have being provided with a wide range of
support, including “defensive fires
support to protect them.”
The Kremlin said that US airstrikes against Syrian
troops would further destabilize the situation.
Moscow has “repeatedly underlined that help to
the Syrian opposition, moreover financial and technical assistance,
leads to further destabilization of the situation in the country,”
Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said, adding that IS
terrorists may take advantage of this situation.
The US rebel training program launched in May
implies military instruction of up to 5,400 fighters a year, Reuters
reports. The program is reportedly so hard for the trainees that
some candidates are being declared ineligible from the start.
According to WSJ, Pentagon has been planning to
have 3,000 fighters trained by the end of 2015, but finding
applicants without ties to hardline groups turned out to be a heavy
task. Reportedly, so far fewer than 60 fighters have been trained.
There are now multiple groups taking part in the
Syrian civil war, as Assad’s troops are fighting not only the
rebels, but also other militant groups, such as Al-Qaeda's Syrian
wing, the so-called Al-Nusra Front, and IS. The militant groups, in
turn, are fighting not only Assad’s troops, but each other too.
“We recognize, though, that many of these
groups now fight on multiple fronts, including against the Assad
regime, (Islamic State) and other terrorists,”
said Pentagon spokeswoman Commander Elissa Smith, stressing though
that “first and foremost” the US focuses on combating IS.
However, as a result the US warplanes may end up
bombing government troops under the command of a legitimate
president, Assad, an act of aggression against a sovereign country
that only the UN Security Council could authorize.
September will mark one year that the US-led
coalition has been bombing positions of the Islamic State in Iraq
and Syria. Although already in November 2014 there were reports that
the anti-IS campaign could be nothing else but a move to allow the
US military to oust President Assad through less direct means.
In 2013, Damascus narrowly escaped a US-led
invasion after Russia brokered an agreement for Syria to hand over
its chemical weapons to the international community.
At the time, UK Prime Minister David Cameron lost
a bid in the House of Commons to ally British forces with the US
military, but now Royal Air Force is bombing positions of IS along
with the Americans.
READ MORE: UK pilots authorized to bomb Syria without
democratic sanction – Reprieve
An airstrike of the anti-IS coalition on Assad
troops might become a very dangerous precedent and cause a direct
military conflict between Washington and Damascus, something that
diplomats have manage to avoid since the beginning of the Syrian