AIRSTRIKE: Trump doubles down on Syria

President Donald Trump’s first airstrike against Syria’s Assad regime came after video evidence was made public showing a chemical attack on his own people in April. US warships launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the airbase that was home to the warplanes that carried out the chemical attacks.

There hadn’t been any further U.S. activity in Syria against the Assad regime until today, when U.S. forces struck ground forces loyal to Assad in Syria after the regime crossed yet another red line, reportedly violating an international de-militarized zone surrounding a US-protected army base repeatedly.

According to CBS News:

[T]he Syrian regime has violated the zone two times in the past few days, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reported.

In one incident, 27 regime vehicles drove within 18 miles of al-Tanf, which breached the 34 mile radius of the army convoy. U.S. aircraft attempted to buzz the regime, but when the convoy didn’t turn around, they conducted a strike against some of the vehicles.

In the second incident, an unarmed Syrian SU-22 fighter-bomber entered the deconfliction zone and was intercepted by a pair of F-22 fighter aircraft.

Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), said in a statement that “the coalition struck pro-regime forces that were advancing well inside an established de-confliction zone” and “posed a threat to U.S. and partner forces” at al-Tanf.

It said the action was taken after “apparent Russian attempts to dissuade Syrian pro-regime movement” toward at-Tanf were unsuccessful, and after a “coalition aircraft show of force” and warning shots.

“The agreed upon de-confliction zone agreement remains in effect,” the statement said.

It remains unclear why the Syrians violated the zone. Martin reports that Syrian forces are pushing eastward toward the Euphrates River Valley, which hints to the idea that the regime may have been doing reconnaissance on their flank.

The response has been mixed among Trump’s supporters and opponents, with some supporters opposing the strike.

Of course, the main argument against fighting the Assad regime is that despite the atrocities they carry out, they are fighting ISIS, so fighting them helps ISIS by proxy. According to USA today, however, an official explained that the airstrike was a defensive action, and does not change US policy of focusing military efforts on fighting ISIS.

[Note: This post was written by Matt Palumbo. He is a co-author of the forthcoming book A Paradoxical Alliance: Islam and the Left, and can be found on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]

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