Washington, D.C. — May 18, 2017 — Today, U.S. aircraft launched airstrikes against pro-Assad forces, a step that amounts to a significant increase in U.S. military involvement in Syria. The strike took place near Syria’s southern border with Jordan and Iraq against a convoy made up of pro-Assad Syrian and Iranian fighters. The Pentagon justified the strike by saying that the convoy’s forces “were posing a threat” to Pentagon-backed forces in the area. The strikes destroyed a number of vehicles but casualties are unclear.
While this strike represents the Trump administration’s second attack on Syrian government forces, the first strike was framed as an isolated strike to enforce chemical weapons norms given Syria’s purported chemical weapons use. With the second strike, the United States is embarking on attacks against Syrian government forces with only a short-sighted battlefield rationale. As Muzahem al Saloum, from the Pentagon-backed Maghawir al Thwra group told Reuters, “We notified the coalition that we were being attacked by the Syrian army and Iranians in this point, and the coalition came and destroyed the advancing convoy.”
Jon Rainwater, Executive Director of Peace Action, made this statement:
“With these strikes the U.S. has crossed a dangerous threshold. We now appear to be entering sustained military conflict with the Assad government and its allies. With Russian and Iranian fighters in the area, this is a reckless escalation that could spiral out of control.
“When the president ordered the first strike in April against Syrian forces, it was portrayed as a one-off strike to punish Syria for reported chemical weapons use. This strike makes clear the U.S. is getting dragged into active combat in Syria’s civil war. Donald Trump once tweeted ‘We should stay the hell out of Syria, the ‘rebels’ are just as bad as the current regime.’ Clearly President Trump has done a dramatic and perilous 180 that threatens lives and endangers stability throughout the region.
“Without a formal authorization from Congress this remains an illegal war. Congress should debate this new escalation and put an end to this war that makes us all less safe.”
Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to international conflicts. The public may learn more and take action at http://www.PeaceAction.org.