trump gave the pentagon a free hand, but not necessarily CENTCOM

Euphrates valley is becoming a minefield
Shawn Snow, Military Times, Jun 19 2017


FASCHINGSTEIN — Bolstered by coalition air-power, Kurdish forces in Syria have entered the second week of fighting to seize the city of Raqqa, where nearly 2,000 Daesh are battling to maintain control of their de facto capital in a bloody street-by-street battle. The fighting has slowed down inside of Raqqa, where just a week ago Kurdish fighters advanced rapidly to reach the historic walls of the Old City, a fortified area built in the eighth century by the Abbasid Caliphate. But as that battle rages on, Syrian regime forces supported by Iranian militias have penetrated east, just south of Tabqa city, toward one of Daesh’s last bastions, the city of Deir ez-Zor and the small collection of Sunni majority villages along the Euphrates river. As Daesh rapidly loses territory, Pindostan and its partner forces in the region have come into increasing conflict with Syrian regime and allied militias in a competition to control the Euphrates river valley. For Pindostan it has been the scene of more than 360 airstrikes since March. (ZIO ALERT – RB) Kyle Orton of the Henry Jackson Society in London said:

Deir ez-Zor is where Daesh will survive, with Anbar on the other side of the border, unless it’s rooted out. The Syrian regime has an ideological fixation on restoring total control over Deir Ez-Zor, and it is also the site of resources that can help make a reconstituted Assad state viable. Iran needs eastern Syria to shore up its hold on Iraq, its access to Hezbollah, and above all to prevent the Pindosis laying down anchor and disrupting this quasi-imperial design.

The Sunni majority population in the Euphrates River Valley could complicate the Pindosi goal of eradicating Daesh from the region. Daesh sympathies run deep in the region, and its proximity to the Iraqi border could become a destabilizing factor in rebuilding the war-devastated region and quelling any Sunni insurgency in a post-Daesh environment inside Iraq. (In other words, we pretend we have to control it because it is part of the Iraq theater. The true reason is to interdict Hezbollah’s supply lines from Iran to Lebanon – RB). James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation in Faschingstein said:

Many of the important Sunni towns are located in the valley. The Euphrates Valley is a very important communications and transportation vector.

In recent months, many Daesh leaders have fled Raqqa and Mosul for safe haven in the Euphrates valley. According to officials in Baghdad, the Euphrates valley is home to approximately 5,000-10,000 Daesh fighters. Jennifer Cafarella of the Institute for the Study of War in Faschingstein said:

Deir ez-Zor is another Daesh capital. Their external operations center is now located there, where it was once centered in Raqqa (not what the source, itself a zio one, actually said – RB).

This is not the first time Russia has decided to cut the deconfliction time. Russia temporarily halted the hotline in April after the Pindo cruise missile barrage upon the Syrian Shayrat airbase. However, the hotline in recent weeks has become more important than ever to aid in decongesting the tight airspace over Raqqa, and has grown to include deconflicting military ground maneuvers between Syrian regime forces and their proxy elements, and Pindostan’s Syrian allies in and around the Euphrates river valley. On multiple occasions, Pindostan has used the line to warn pro-Syrian government forces to stay at arm’s length from Pindo and partner forces operating near Raqqa and Tabqa cities, as well as those operating near a Pindo training facility in at-Tanf, on the border with Iraq. Some of those warnings were not heeded, and have resulted in Pindosi defensive actions, including the downing of the Iranian Shahid-129 drone and the Syrian Su-22 on Sunday. In both instances, Pindo boxtops in Baghdad contend they have used the deconfliction line with Russia in an attempt to end threatening activities being carried out by pro-Syrian government forces. (ZIO ALERT – RB) Fabrice Balanche of WINEP said:

The major parties to the conflict, to include Syria and Iran, Pindostan’s Kurdish partners and FSA members, are inching toward conflict day by day as each side competes for territory lost by Daesh without any means of deconfliction. Assad and his allies think that Pindostan wants to stay in eastern Syria. That is why they want to expel Pindo forces.

With few means to deconflict operations and intentions, the possibility of open hostilities increases. CENTCOM officials continue to emphasize that the mission in Syria is solely to fight Daesh. A CENTCOM statement issued after the downing of the Syrian jet Sunday said:

The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat.

But without a clear, long-term strategy in Syria, Pindostan risks becoming involved in a larger conflict.

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