In case you haven’t been paying attention, the recent Syria ceasefire lasted barely a week. While all sides engaged in the conflict were accusing the other of violating the agreement from the beginning, it really unraveled when U.S. forces bombed Syrian government forces, killing at least 62.
As CNN reported at the time:
Hours after US-led coalition airstrikes reportedly killed dozens of Syrian troops, the US and Russian ambassadors to the United Nations chastised each other outside an emergency Security Council meeting.
The strike occurred Saturday in an eastern part of Syria that is not a part of a delicate and nearly week-old ceasefire. The US military said it was targeting ISIS militants and if it hit Syrian troops, it was an accident.
Russia and Syria said the strikes prove Washington and its allies are sympathetic to ISIS.
The Russian military said 62 Syrian soldiers were killed near Deir Ezzor Airport, according to state media. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 83 and said at least 120 soldiers were wounded.
A fews day after this, Syrian forces launched an attack on the city of Aleppo, and we now find ourselves in an extraordinarily dangerous situation.
Obama administration officials have begun considering tougher responses to the Russian-backed Syrian government assault on Aleppo, including military options, as rising tensions with Moscow diminish hopes for diplomatic solutions from the Middle East to Ukraine and cyberspace, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
The new discussions were being held at “staff level,” and have yet to produce any recommendations to President Barack Obama, who has resisted ordering military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s multisided civil war.
But the deliberations coincide with Secretary of State John Kerry threatening to halt diplomacy with Russia on Syria and holding Moscow responsible for dropping incendiary bombs on rebel areas of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. It was the stiffest U.S. warning to the Russians since the Sept. 19 collapse of a truce they jointly brokered.
But the heavy use of Russian airpower in Syria has compounded U.S. distrust of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical intentions, not only in the 5-1/2 year civil war, but also in the Ukraine conflict and in what U.S. officials say are Russian-backed cyber attacks on U.S. political targets.
The U.S. officials said the failure of diplomacy in Syria has left the Obama administration no choice but to consider alternatives, most of which involve some use of force and have been examined before but held in abeyance.
These include allowing Gulf allies to supply rebels with more sophisticated weaponry, something considered more likely despite Washington’s opposition to this until now. Another is a U.S. air strike on an Assad air base, viewed as less likely because of the potential for causing Russian casualties, the officials told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
If full fledged war breaks out with Russia, it’s very likely to begin in Syria. The only good news here is I doubt Obama will begin any major escalation with only a few months left in his Presidency.
The bad news is that if Hillary Clinton is elected President, all hell is likely to break loose in short order.
I outlined my reasoning for this forecast in the following posts:
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