Update: Footage published on Al-Masdar News moments ago appears to show white phosphorus or cluster bombs falling over Raqqa, which are both banned internationally if used on residential areas.
(MPN) — In what some speculate may be the beginning of the end for Daesh (ISIS), the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) entered Raqqa – Daesh’s Syrian stronghold – for the first time on Tuesday. SDF commander Rojda Felat told the AFP news agency that the group is “fighting street battles inside Raqqa now, and we have experience in urban warfare.” The advance came after heavy airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition, which killed more than 20 civilians trying to flee the offensive by boat.
— Julian Röpcke (@JulianRoepcke) June 8, 2017
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Why we need to pay attention to Raqqa. In May alone, we tracked a minimum of 220 likely civilian deaths around city https://t.co/L5Ygw5SHnQ
— Airwars (@airwars) June 7, 2017
The push for the U.S.-backed SDF to claim Raqqa from Daesh has been in the works for over seven months, having only been made possible by U.S.-led coalition air support, thousands of military advisers and deliveries of heavy weapons. While the U.S.-led coalition, particularly the U.S. itself, claims that this support is all for the common cause of eradicating Daesh, their plans for Raqqa following a Daesh defeat could make the future goal of a united Syria all but impossible to achieve.
In April, the SDF announced that they would give control of post-Daesh Raqqa to a “civilian council” instead of the Syrian government. This council would be supported by more than 3,000 U.S. ground troops. General Joseph Votel – the head of U.S. Central Command – stated that these ground troops would stay in Raqqa long after a Daesh defeat in order to help “America’s allies” stabilize the region and aid them in establishing “Syrian-led peacekeeping efforts.” In other words, U.S. ground forces will support U.S.-backed opposition forces in establishing what would essentially be an independent state within Syria.
There is little chance that the Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, and its allies will allow this to happen, suggesting that the possibility of the Syrian conflict spilling beyond the country’s borders will come after Daesh’s defeat in Raqqa. However, recent events suggest that this may happen even sooner.
Pro-government forces are also actively fighting Daesh within the Raqqa province and the U.S. already bombed other pro-government forces directly when they entered a deconfliction zone around a facility where U.S. military advisers are training SDF troops in al Tanf. According to a statement from U.S. Central Command, “the Coalition destroyed additional pro-Syrian regime forces that advanced inside the well-established deconfliction zone in southern Syria.”
However, the Syrian and Russian governments do not recognize those deconfliction zones established without Syrian government approval, especially those unilaterally set up within Syria by the U.S. Essentially, the U.S. is now setting up deconfliction zones in order to criminalize the presence of Syrian forces in order to protect the independent state it seeks create. Now, a military alliance fighting in support of Assad said it may target U.S. positions in Syria, warning that its “self-restraint” regarding U.S. airstrikes on government forces will end if Washington crosses “red lines.”
A divided Syria – separated by sectarianism
The endgame here is clearly the eventual division of Syria. The U.S. plan to partition Syria is nothing new and was touted numerous times by former Secretary of State John Kerry, along with journalists and prominent U.S. academics, as the “necessary” solution to the Syrian conflict. According to this plan, Syria would be divided along sectarian lines, with autonomous regions created for Alawites, the Druze/Christians, Kurds and Sunni Muslims.
MFA: US strike on Syrian army in de-escalation zone is unacceptable pic.twitter.com/5Z9PUfAZjB
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) June 7, 2017
As they are finding it difficult to overthrow Syria directly, they are now trying to partition the Country.
— james spencer (@elgae669) June 7, 2017
Partition is Becoming Legitimate: Al-Ghab Fences to Normalize Territory Division in Syria https://t.co/X40My4pWlR
— Steffan Wyn-Jones (@swjiwji) June 7, 2017
The plan, which was not drafted by the Syrians, would allow the U.S. to draw dividing lines across the entire nation and redistribute key oil and gas resources within Syria to the sectarian group of its choosing. In addition, the plan would give the majority of Syrian territory to Sunni Muslims, a region that would likely be governed by a “council” comprising U.S.-backed Sunni militant groups, nearly all of which have the stated intention of creating a radical Wahhabi theocracy that would likely end up waging new conflicts with the other autonomous regions.
Partition-style “nation-building” is not a new tactic, having previously been used by Western imperial powers in Africa to weaken the continent through the use of internal conflict caused by manufactured sectarianism and subsequently making Africa’s rich resources more exploitable. Syria is no exception, as the conflict itself, far from being a “revolution,” has been about weakening Syria and dividing it along sectarian lines to make its own oil and gas reserves – as well as its strategic position – more exploitable.
The same occurred in Iraq and Libya, where sectarianism was manufactured after U.S.-led invasions. Plans for their partitioning have also been proposed. Indeed, Syria is symptomatic of the Western and Zionist neo-colonial plan to restructure the entire Middle East, with nations that have long championed secularism bound to suffer as a result.
To accomplish this plan, the U.S. must first weaken Assad. The situation in Raqqa may provide the justification by allowing the U.S. government to argue that U.S. troops in the area are in danger, regardless of the fact that their presence there is technically illegal. This reasoning has been used by the U.S. before to justify unilateral invasions or coups in other nations. Perhaps the removal of Daesh from Raqqa will trigger the “final phase” of the Syrian conflict, as has been suggested – and it could easily prove to be the most dangerous phase yet.