WSWS on deir ez-zor

62 dead, 100 wounded as Pindostan bombs Syrian army near Deir ez-Zor
Alex Lantier, WSWS, Sep 19 2016

At least sixty-two Syrian troops died and 100 were wounded on Saturday when US jets bombed a Syrian government base on al-Tharda mountain near Deir ez-Zor. Remarkably, CENTCOM has still not apologized for the attack, even though its bombing allowed Daesh to storm and capture the base shortly afterwards. This massacre is a flagrant act of war that threatens to escalate the Syrian conflict into an all-out war pitting NATO against Syria and Russia. Everything suggests that the attack, coming in the initial days of a Pindo-Russian ceasefire in Syria openly criticized last week by the Pentagon, was deliberately committed by forces inside the Pentagon hostile to the ceasefire. The Pentagon’s refusal to formally apologize for the massacre is staggeringly reckless. Syrian troops fighting Pindo-backed Islamist opposition militias are being aided on the ground by units from Iran, China, and Russia. The Pentagon is signalling to these countries, which not only have powerful forces in Syria but in the case of China and Russia, nuclear weapons, that their own troops may end up as targets of military action, as they operate alongside Syrian forces. Syrian and Russian officials denounced the bombing as Pindosi aid to Daesh, while Russian officials called an emergency meeting of the UNSC to demand explanations from Washington. The Syrian Foreign Ministry accused Washington of complicity with Daesh. It declared:

At 05:00 pm, on Sep 17 2016, five Pindo aircraft launched a fierce airstrike on Syrian Army positions on al-Tharda Mountain in the surroundings of Deir ez-Zor Airport. The attack lasted for an hour. The attack launched by the ISIS terrorists on the same site, taking control over it … highlights the coordination between this terrorist organization and Pindostan.

What emerged from the contradictory accounts of the bombing provided by the feuding factions of the Pindo military-intelligence machine is a picture of a massacre prepared and executed in cold blood. The Obama administration relayed regrets via Moscow to Damascus for the “unintentional loss of life of Syrian forces,” anonymous Pentagon boxtops told the press. However CENTCOM issued a perfunctory statement making no apology to the Syrian military for its losses. It declared blandly:

The coalition air strike was halted immediately when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military. Syria is a complex situation with various military forces and militias in close proximity, but coalition forces would not intentionally strike a known Syrian military unit, officials said. The coalition will review this strike and the circumstances surrounding it to see if any lessons can be learned.

Such claims that Pindo planes were unaware of who they were bombing are simply not credible, and are flatly contradicted by other accounts in the media. An anonymous CENTCOM boxtop told the NYT that Pindo surveillance aircraft tracked the Syrian army units “for several days” before Pindo planes attacked them:

The attack went on for about 20 minutes, with the planes destroying the vehicles and gunning down dozens of people in the open desert, the official said. Shortly after this, an urgent call came into the Pindo military command center in Qatar. … The call was from a Russian official who said that the Pindo planes were bombing Syrian troops and that the strike should be immediately called off.

Nevertheless, the Pindosi jets continued to bomb the Syrian base for several minutes before ending the attack, according to the Centcom official’s account. The attack at Deir ez-Zor shows that Washington and its allies are not seeking a cease-fire and de-escalation, let alone peace. They are pursuing the same strategy adopted by the NATO powers in Syria ever since 2011: pursuing regime change by backing Islamist militias like Daesh or Jabhat al-Nusra against Assad’s regime. The latest attack has shown that, even after Daesh mounted repeated terror attacks in Eurostan & Pindostan, a definite collaboration still exists between Pindostan and Daesh to escalate the war. After Saturday’s attack, think tank operatives quickly came forward in the media to do political damage control. Aaron David Miller of the Wilson Center warned the NYT:

(This will) feed conspiracy theories that Washington is in league with Daesh (and allow Putin to) blast Pindostan on the eve of the UNGA.

This is cynical propaganda. As they backed Syrian opposition militias, top Pindo boxtops and journalists were fully aware of their terrorist character. NYT journalist C J Chivers dedicated a friendly 2012 video to the Lions of Tawhid militia, which set off truck bombs in Syrian cities. This was only one of dozens of Pindo-backed opposition militias that carried out atrocities across Syria, including Daesh, whose operations in Syria only began to be targeted last year after it carried out repeated terror attacks in Europe. The dominant factions of the Pindosi government want war, and Moscow’s strategy, negotiating truces with Washington, and backing Assad while accommodating Pindo military operations in Syria, is totally bankrupt. Hostile to and afraid of appealing to antiwar sentiment in the working class, particularly in Pindostan, the Kremlin has sought to deal with the Pindo war drive through talks with the Pindo government. This strategy has failed, as Russian officials were all but forced to admit, in the face of Pindo military opposition to the ceasefire. After the emergency meeting of the UNSC called by Moscow, Vitaly Churkin charged that the Pindo attack was a deliberate attempt to derail the ceasefire, pointing to the “highly suspicious” timing of the attack. He said:

It was quite significant and not accidental that it happened just two days before the Russian-Pindosi arrangements were supposed to come into full force. The beginning of work of the Joint Implementation Group was supposed to be Sep 19. So if Pindostan wanted to conduct an effective strike on Jabhat al-Nusra or Daesh, in Deir ez-Zor or anywhere else, they could wait two more days and coordinate with our military and be sure that they are striking the right people… Instead they chose to conduct this reckless operation. One has to conclude that the airstrike has been conducted in order to derail the operation of the Joint Implementation Group and actually prevent it from being set in motion.

This assessment was echoed by DEBKAfile (the product of army intelligence – RB):

The Pentagon and the army are not following the orders of their Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama in the execution of the military cooperation accord in Syria concluded by Jackass Kerry and Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Sep 12.

It cited concerns by top Pentagon boxtops that the terms of the ceasefire give Russia too much of an “opportunity to study the combat methods and tactics practiced by the US Navy and Air force in real battlefield conditions.” For this reason, the Pentagon is opposing it even after it was agreed to by Jackass:

Washington sources report that Ashtray Carter maintains that he can’t act against a law enacted by Congress. He was referring to the law that prohibits all military-to-military relations with Russia as a result of Moscow’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

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