Aletho News


Recent hostilities between Syrian and US forces could be a turning point

By Robert Inlakesh | RT | April 9, 2023

US President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes on a number of positions in northeastern Syria last month, after Washington announced the death of a contractor in a drone strike.

What followed was an unprecedented response from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and allied militias, shelling US positions throughout the duration of the following day. This exchange of fire marks a turning point in the conflict between the two sides.

On March 23, the US Department of Defense claimed that a drone, of Iranian origin, had struck US forces stationed near al-Hasakah, in northeastern Syria, killing an American contractor and injuring a number of service members. To which F-15 fighter jets were launched from Doha in order to target Iranian-allied militia groups in the Deir ez-Zor province of Syria. Throughout recent years there have been several exchanges between US and Iranian-allied militia groups in Syria’s east. However, these rarely resulted in American casualties and the brief escalations were controlled.

What changed following the US strikes on March 24 is that there was intense return fire from not only Iranian-aligned militias in Deir ez-Zor, but also from the SAA itself. A number of US bases were struck in the response, which primarily targeted American forces around the al-Omar oil fields, inflicting traumatic brain injuries on six US troops, according to the Pentagon. During a trip to Canada the following day, Joe Biden remarked that the US was “not going to stop” when asked about retaliating against Iran for the exchange in Syria. “Be prepared for us to act forcefully to protect our people” he said.

It later emerged that the Biden administration had moved one of its aircraft carriers, the USS George H.W. Bush, closer to Syria, which, deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh explained, was due to “increased attacks from [Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)]-affiliated groups targeting our service members across Syria.” What this represents, regardless of whatever action the US may take in the future, is a strategic change in the equation set forth by Syria and its allies in Syria’s east. What an Iraqi source with intimate knowledge of the situation claimed had been an “order to now kill American troops and not just fire warning shots.”

According to a Syrian political source, who chose to remain anonymous for security reasons, the escalation in the northeast is directly tied to the ongoing Israeli aggression against the country:

“The recent move by Syria and allies is a direct response to a wave of Israeli escalation against the country that began last year. If you remember in August of 2022, there was a similar stand-off between the Americans and IRGC allies in northeastern Syria. The Israeli escalation is directly enabled by the United States, whose officials talked in the past about the importance of the American military presence in Syria for Israel’s war-between-wars campaign against Iran-aligned forces there.”

The “war between wars” is one of Tel Aviv’s inter-war campaigns, where covert operations are carried out against enemy states during a period of relative calm between both sides. Israel’s recent campaign has primarily consisted of operations against Iranian-linked targets, both inside and outside of Iran; it also has included a large number of unannounced airstrikes inside Syria, where members of the IRGC have been targeted, along with allied militia groups. The Israel Defense Forces have a policy of not commenting on these attacks but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in the past admitted that “hundreds” of them had taken place over the years.

If Damascus’ new approach of responding forcefully against the US military in northeastern Syria is adopted going forward, it will give Washington only two options: negotiate with Damascus or leave the country completely. If American soldiers are coming home in body bags over maintaining an occupation inside a country that the US public, along with  Congress, were never consulted on, the pressure of remaining could become a burden on the Biden administration. This is especially the case at a time when the Arab World is beginning to normalize formal ties with Damascus, in addition to Washington’s NATO ally Türkiye.

A Syria-Türkiye rapprochement could be essential to forcing the US out of Syria also, as both countries could end up coordinating during any future Turkish offensive against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the northeast. The SDF operate as a kind of US proxy force, allowing for the Americans to use a small number of their own troops to occupy roughly a third of Syria’s territory; included in which are the most fertile agricultural lands and the majority of Syria’s natural resources. Both previous attacks, launched by Ankara in 2018 and 2019, led to a withdrawal of US forces so as to not accidentally cause friction with their NATO ally. In the event that another military operation from Türkiye is launched, Syria could be poised to retake its oil fields, in theory.

The adoption of a head-on confrontation strategy by Iran-aligned groups and the Syrian government could lead to new horizons and to the possibility of a US withdrawal, that is assuming the Biden administration is not wedded completely to the idea of staying.

Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the Palestinian territories and currently works with Quds News.

April 9, 2023 - Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | ,


  1. The American occupation of Syria is an ongoing war crime: they are carrying off the oil, stealing it, in plain English, and they have destroyed the region’s wheat crops expressly to deny food to the Syrian people, hoping, I suppose, to rouse opposition to Mr. al-Assad. I devoutly hope they will be driven out.


    Comment by traducteur | April 9, 2023 | Reply

  2. The newly positioned aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean can be used offensively or as part of the decision to withdraw all 900 US troops from Syria? Saudi Arabia is fed up with the US approach to foreign policy after Joe Biden went there to tell Saudia Arabia how much oil to pump. (The higher the gas prices in the US the more competitive alternatives are for Biden’s no-energy agenda. But since Biden was blamed for higher gas prices because of his decision to abort fossil fuels, he tried and failed to get the Saudis to increase production to lower the price at the pump in California and elsewhere in the USA. Biden led off his remarks to the Prince with a snot nose lecture on human rights. If that wasn’t bad enough, Biden told the younger man, who was now head of the venerable House of Saud, that he would appreciate it if the Saudis would pump more oil.

    Stung twice by a belligerent Joe Biden, and under his own Palace roof too, the Prince showed Biden a pleasant time. But after it was all said and done, last week Saudi Arabia announced oil production cuts of 1 million barrels a day beginning in May. The Saudis also announced it was reestablishing relations with Iran for the first time in seven years. A deal that was mediated by China’s Xi Jinping. China is already the Kingdom’s most important trading partner and the country’s economic future is seen as residing in the East, not in the West. Malaysia is also cutting its ties with the dollar. Don’t be surprised if Malaysia announces it is joining the BRICS+ with Iran. The sand under the feet of the United States is shifting dramatically. How the US responds to these events in the future will be measured by the way in which it deploys its armed forces.


    Comment by Thomas Lee Simpson | April 9, 2023 | Reply

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