Syria: carnage and betrayal in Raqqa endgame

At least 33 people were killed in an air-strike on a school sheltering displaced residents outside the ISIS-held city of Raqqa, in northern Syria, according to monitoring activists on the ground. The behind-lines anti-ISIS monitoring group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, which has heroically reported on realities under Islamic State rule in the city, said the school at the village of al-Mansoura was sheltering some 50 families when it was levelled by air-strikes earlier this week. The raid is believed to have been carried out by US warplanes. “The massacres committed by [the] US-led coalition in Raqqa is unacceptable,” the group said in a statement. “The international community must intervene to stop this.” (The Independent)

The strike comes as US-led coalition aircraft are for the first time carrying out an air-lift of local allied fighters in preparation for a final offensive on Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital. The Pentagon said fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were dropped behind ISIS lines close to the Tabqa dam, west of Raqqa. (BBC News)

Following last week’s evident US bombing of a mosque in northern Syria, killing some 50 worshippers, President Trump seems to be gearing up to make good on his campaign pledge to “bomb the shit out of ’em.” The fact that the Kurdish-led SDF is cooperating with the US while it is the Arabs under jihadist rule that are getting bombed further deepens the growing enmity between Kurds and Arabs in northern Syria.

Tellingly, the Kurdish YPG militia, main pillar of the SDF alliance, is also closely coordinating with Russia, the foreign sponsor and protector of the Assad dictatorship. All this points to a new convergence between Trump, Purin and Assad—with the Kurds (desperate to keep alive their autonomous zone in a pincer between Turkey and ISIS) sucessfully groomed as proxies.

But allowing the Kurdish-led SDF to keep Raqqa will antagonize Turkey. It is more likely that the SDF will be pressured to turn it over to Assad—as the SDF has already turned over some villages taken from ISIS. If Raqqa is thusly turned over, it will be a bitter betrayal of the city’s inhabitants, and the Syrian revolution generally. But it should remove all doubt that the US is doing anything other than collaborating with Assad in the Syrian war.

  1. Euphrates dam in danger of collapse?

    A Reuters report indicates that "Syrian engineers" (meaning from the Assad regime, presumably) are working to open spillways and ease pressure on Tabqa Dam across the Euphrates River during a pause in the US-backed assault to capture it from ISIS. Alarmingly, the dam's northern entrance is in the hands of the SDF while ISIS controls its southern reaches—portending disaster for Raqqa if it breached in the fighting.

  2. US ‘accidentally’ bombs SDF forces

    The Pentagon admits a US-led coalition air-strike in support of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting ISIS south of Tabqa, Raqqa governorate, resulted in the death of 18 SDF fighters on April 11. "The Coalition’s deepest condolences go out to the members of the SDF and their families. The Coalition is in close contact with our SDF partners who have expressed a strong desire to remain focused on the fight against ISIS despite this tragic incident," the coalition said in an official statement. (ARA News, April 14)