SYRIA - "THE REGIME WILL BE THERE" - U.S. CONCEDES RAQQA ... AND THE SYRIAN EAST? | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

SYRIA - "THE REGIME WILL BE THERE" - U.S. CONCEDES RAQQA ... AND THE SYRIAN EAST?

A new Wall Street Journal piece, primarily about the ISIS held city of Raqqa on the Euphrates, casts doubt on long term U.S. plans for such an occupation. Its core quote:

"We won’t be in Raqqa in 2020, but the regime will be there."
There were already doubts that a big U.S. move in east-Syria was really going to happen. Jordan opposes any such move. While the U.S. and Jordan have trained, equipped and paid Syrian "rebels" to hold a zone of control in south-west Syria, little preparations have been seen for a large move in the south-east. The U.S. has so far vetted and trained at most 2,000 local Arab fighters in the area. Fewer are ready to go. Even with U.S. special forces embedded with them these forces are way too small to take an ISIS defended city or to capture or to hold a significant area. At least ten to twenty thousand troops would be needed (likely more) for such an endeavor. The current force is probably only tasked with taking a few border stations to close down the border between Syria and Iraq. (A move that Syrian and Iraqi forces will try to prevent.)

The upcoming taking of Raqqa by U.S. forces and its Kurdish proxies is now endorsed by the Syrian government and its Russian allies. It seems that an agreement has been made without any public announcement. This agreement may well extend to the other eastern areas south of Raqqa. From the WSJ:

The Kurd-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces captured Tabqa Wednesday, a day after the U.S. pledged to arm the fighters. On Monday, the Damascus government for the first time endorsed the group’s battle against Islamic State, with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem complimenting the SDF’s fight against Islamic State at a press conference in Damascus, describing the force as legitimate.
The SDF is now the only ground force with both U.S. and Syrian government approval in the fight against Islamic State as the offensive on Raqqa draws near. The group has long co-existed with the Syrian government, unlike U.S.- backed factions that Damascus deems terrorists in light of their goal to oust President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. ...

U.S. President Donald Trump has made clear he opposes the expensive nation-building missions that have historically accompanied U.S. counterterrorism operations to support local governments and prevent insurgents from returning.

For these reasons, Western diplomats say the post-capture plan is for the SDF to hand over the administration of Raqqa to a local civilian council friendly to the Syrian regime. That council could eventually transfer control of the city back to the regime, these diplomats said....

On Thursday, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Moscow supports the formation of local councils to administer territory taken from Islamic State but said they must not circumvent the Syrian government’s authority, in comments carried by Interfax news agency.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

IF, in fact, this article is correct, there are reasons to be hopeful about the ultimate outcome in Syria.

If it is not, we are looking at a direct military conflict in Syria with Russia, and that would be horrific.

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