The Los Angeles Times recently ran a rare behind-the-scenes report on U.S. military presence in Syria titled Inside US troops’ stronghold in Syria, a question of how long Biden will keep them there.
Of all American wars of aggression abroad over the past thirty years perhaps the one in Syria has received the scantiest coverage. Few know how many troops Washington has in the country and what their precise role has been and remains.
The on-the-spot, man-on-the-ground, highly cinematic feature begins with a typical war correspondent’s faux-scenic touch to give it…local color.
A military outpost (as is typical to the point of tedium in such pieces, sounding as though it’s so remote as to be on another planet), revealingly “abutting a natural gas field in eastern Syria,” provides the opening scene. Then it pans out to show that “A tattered U.S. flag strung between 40-foot-tall gas processing towers flies high over the base.”
Ah, the fruits of American journalism schools. What they lack in candor and accuracy they most assuredly make up for with purple prose that would make a greeting card writer blush.
To go from sound stage to landscape and then to close up for the human angle, an officer with the Louisiana National Guard is quoted bravely affirming: “We’ve got the flagpole planted. We want them to know we are committed to this region.” Evokes the spirit of raising a frayed flag over Iwo Jima. On a smaller scale and in a minor key of course.
It’s not indicated who the them, above, are, but one has to assume they are locals concerned about ISIS threats for public consumption, Syrian government forces in actuality. Syrian oil must be kept of the hands of Syrians.
The American military base is named Conoco, “acquired from the long-departed U.S. oil and gas firm that once operated the wells.” So, you see, it really is American oil after all.
The name of the base discloses more about what the Pentagon is doing in Syria than reams of State Department press releases and bundles of editions of the Los Angeles Times could ever hope to do.
The article estimates that there are about 900 American troops in the nation. In Syria, in complete violation of the nation’s sovereignty and international law. The government of the country did not invite and in no manner welcomes them there; there is no United Nations or other mandate to justify their presence. Like their Turkish NATO counterparts, they are part of an invasion and occupation force.
As to what the valiant men and women of Fort Conoco and their fellow GIs are really up to, in recent days the Syrian Arab News Agency reports that a 45-vehicle U.S. military convoyed illegally entered the country from Iraq; one consisting of military vehicles, lorries and fuel tankers that were “heading for Deir Ezzor and Hasaka, where a number of the occupation [forces’] bases are spread.”
To place that incident in context, the report added: “In a flagrant violation of the international law, US occupation troops work to enhance their illegal presence in the al-Jazeera region, as they have established several bases to protect and train armed groups and terrorist organizations operating under their command to achieve their hostile schemes.”
The same agency revealed that on March 13 American military forces seized grain from the Tal Alou silos in Hasaka and transported it in ten vehicles to Iraq; in a country suffering from a food shortage. It added, “During the past two weeks, the US occupation forces have stolen large quantities of wheat from the silos of Tal Alou through more than 112 trucks and sent them to northern Iraq.” Evidently Syrian wheat, like its oil, belongs to the U.S. as well.
The Syrian Arab News Agency also recently reported that “Turkish occupation forces and their terrorist mercenaries” shelled residential areas in the countryside near Aleppo. By way of background as the war and proxy war in Syria enters its second decade, the news agency explained: “Turkish occupation troops constantly target villages and residential areas with rocket shells in the northern countryside of Aleppo, which often causes civilian casualties, in addition to material damages.”
It was to be expected that the new American administration would revive and intensify the war in Syria. Its airstrikes of February 25 announced that fact to the world. One should be prepared to see more attacks from the air, from the sea and on the ground from neighboring Iraq and Turkey.