The Syrian government and its allies have threatened to retaliate against the United States after a number of damaging airstrikes. A special alliance assisting Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in the fight against ISIS, along with forces from Russia and Iran, have released several points of criticism in regard to attacks from U.S. warplanes. The U.S. replied that Iranian militants had moved too close to a Syrian airbase and provoked the action.
President Donald Trump and Assad have both declared war on the Islamic State in order to take back caliphate-held land in the eastern part of the country. The Trump administration was initially neutral with Assad and his government but changed its stance after Assad launched a chemical-weapons attack on his own people in April. The U.S. then responded by dropping missiles on a Syrian airbase, which created a rift between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The U.S. has been fighting ISIS in Syria with the help of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is made up of Kurds and others focused on eliminating jihadists. It has also been supporting rebels against Assad that are attempting to liberate the city of Deir Al-Zour, which has been held by ISIS for the last three years.
In late May, the U.S. claimed that pro-Syrian forces had crossed into a “deconflication zone” and were warned that any further advancement would be interpreted as hostile. Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, claimed that he did not know about the zone, which was apparently not included with four other established deconflication areas drawn up by Turkey, Iran and Russia one month ago. While the deal was approved in Damascus, it did not contain any mention of the U.S. military operation in southeastern Syria.
Lavrov said that any deconflication zone set up without approval of Damascus was not legitimate and any added zones should be coordinated openly with all concerned parties. The alliance supporting Assad stated that its lack of retaliation thus far was a show of restraint that would quickly end if the U.S. continued to “cross lines.”
Recently, the U.S. admitted to a September 2016 airstrike that targeted ISIS but resulted in the deaths of Syrian soldiers. Prior to taking office, Donald Trump joined Russia and Syria in accusing the U.S. of supporting ISIS through policies established by the Obama administration. He said at the time that the U.S. should prioritize the elimination of ISIS.
During his campaign he mentioned how we shouldn’t fight both sides of a war. Now Trump is doing exactly that, by trying to take on both Assad and ISIS.