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Painting Targets in the Syrian Conflict

Painting Targets in the Syrian Conflict

This week conflict between the U.S. and its allies in Syria against the Syrian regime, Russia, and Iran heated up.

A US F-15 has shot down what has been reported as an armed Iranian made drone operated by Syria as well as the downing of a Syrian SU-22 strike aircraft that was shot down by a US F/A-18E a few short days earlier.

The response by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov was to pull back on coordinated communications between the different forces in the region and issue a statement claiming that any U.S. or allied aircraft incurring into the Syrian territory will be painted/tracked by Russian and its allies anti-aircraft radar and fired upon if a threat is demonstrated against forces aligned with the Kremlin

Reporting on the facts of the incidences has been somewhat consistent, but the rationale behind the attacks has been confused in interpretation by many writing on the issue. The U.S., especially under the new  Trump administration, has focused on targeting ISIS and keeping pressure on its fighters while their hubs of Raqqa and Mosul are picked apart by local forces.

Russian complaints that the SU-22 was targeting ISIS fighters complicates the story, as U.S. sources claim that the Syrian SU-22 was instead targeting Syrian rebel allies in the region. In the past, the U.S. has asserted that because Syrian rebels are often linked with jihadi organizations, what constitutes Syria’s rebels was hard to define. Indeed, many American weapons have ended up in in the hands of the very fighters the U.S. is fighting against.

The fate of the Syrian SU-22 pilot remains unknown, an event that mirrored the Turkish shooting down of a Russian SU-24 strike aircraft in 2015. In that incident, a Turkish F-16 shot down a SU-24 killing at least one of the pilots and causalities were suffered by the Russian marines attempting to rescue the pilot.

Like in the current incident, there is a high degree of uncertainty about who Assad’s regime allies are in the region. It should be openly detailed who local U.S. allies are in the region so it can be demonstrated whether or not Washington is really on the offensive against ISIS while Russia and Syria are trying to wipe out future legitimate political opposition in the region.

Ignoring this long lasting conflict in the West can lead to more incidences that are still not clearly understood or addressed in an appropriate manner. Information and education will be the only way the effects of the Syrian war can be understood and addressed effectively.



Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration