The United States violated its ceasefire commitments with Russia, flew four military aircraft and a drone out of Iraq and bombed the shit out of a fragile Syrian Arab Army position at Deir ez-Zor, killing over 60 soldiers and injuring more than 100 others. Earlier in the day, Syria announced the arrival at the base of 1,000 additional soldiers to help liberate the surrounding region from ISIS control. A statement from US Central Command said “U.S. surveillance had been ‘tracking’ an Islamic State fighting position ‘for a significant amount of time before the strike.'” [<- o.O] An anonymous US official from the Department of Defense said the US strike “appears to be an intelligence failure.”
150,000 civilians (still) live in the Deir ez-Zor region, which has been held under ISIS control. While the Syrians and Russians have been hitting ISIS targets in the region for some time, the US had done absolutely nothing about that until yesterday.
For a…slightly different view, let’s hear what Russian envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin had to say:
The US’ sudden attempt to “help” the Syrian army fighting ISIS in the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, which resulted in a strike that killed and injured dozens of soldiers, does not look like an honest mistake, Russia’s UN envoy told journalists at the UNSC meeting.
“It is highly suspicious that the United States chose to conduct this particular air strike at this time,” Russia’s ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.
Churkin questioned why the US suddenly chose to “help” the Syrian army defend Deir ez-Zor after all these years, recalling how American forces just observed terrorists’ movements and did “nothing when ISIS advanced on Palmyra.”
“It was quite significant and not accidental that it happened just two days before the Russian-American arrangements were supposed to come into full force,” Churkin added.
Regardless of whether the bombing was a deliberate act of provocation by the US (or factions therein) or a more traditional display of blundering Iraq-level incompetence—and barring a future whistleblower’s document leak I suspect we hapless peons will never really know the answer to that question—it is absolutely certain to stymie any potential progress toward peace.
If you have been reading or watching corporate media coverage, please do yourself a favor and take the time to watch Vitaly Churkin’s statement and press conference in its entirety.
In particular, his calling out of the Washington Post editorial board (for this editorial, I think) is a thing of beauty, and he handily puts the blustering belligerence of US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers into perspective. I also like this take on Powers’ speech from Signs of the Times (SOTT) (Powers in bold):
Why are we having this meeting tonight? It is a diversion from what is happening on the ground. [SOTT: What’s happening on the ground is that the U.S. violated the ceasefire, provided air support for Daesh, massacred Syrian troops, and potentially spoiled any chance of a solution to the Syrian war.] If you don’t like what is happening on the ground then you distract. It is a magician’s trick… we encourage the Russian Federation to have emergency meetings with the Assad regime and deliver them to this deal. [SOTT: Talk about a magician’s trick! Power could slaughter a village of children, then turn and self-righteously blame the village for not providing clean water – when she was the one who poisoned the well. This woman is pathological.]
What Russia is alleging tonight is that somehow the United States is undermining the fighting against ISIL. [SOTT: That is exactly what is happening.] The Russian spokesperson even said that the United States might be complicit in this attack… [SOTT: You dropped the bombs, for God’s sake!] This is not a game. [SOTT: Unbelievable.]
The Syrian regime that bills itself as the fighter against ISIL let the group grow and grow. ISIL took root and prospered right next to the Assad regime. [SOTT: While they were already fighting a war against Western-trained terrorists in the west of the country, and while the U.S. sat back while Daesh expanded in Iraq and Syria. Remember, the U.S. watched Daesh take Palmyra – they sat back and let it happen. The Syrians can’t be blamed for that.]
Also for perspective, consider this map:
And for yet another perspective, consider political analyst Marwa Osman’s take:
In case you are unfamiliar with her, Osman is a PhD candidate and lecturer at Lebanese International University (LIU) in Beirut and an expert on Islamic movements and the Levant region. @ 2:00 she says [transcript mine]:
What happened today, it obviously is making the entire Middle East, especially—you should see the streets here in Beirut, not to mention what’s going on in Syria—people are furious. People are demanding the Syrian government to take action right away. This is unacceptable. This is even more risky than ISIS taking the area. Now ISIS has its own airforce to bomb for them areas, for them to go in and invade. Let us hear the spokesperson from the Washington White House telling us that oh, it was a mistake. Let us see what he has to say about this.
By all means, everyone: let’s keep getting our “news” from Western corporate media. All of it.
Apropos of absolutely nothing, a bomb exploded in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City last night, and another was found and disarmed nearby. Fortunately no one was killed, and all 29 victims who were injured have been released from hospitals according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Chelsea, New York City, September 17, 2016:
Aleppo, Syria before “regime change”:
Aleppo, Syria after “regime change”: