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”<https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2017/05/us-syria-strike/527241/> 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 <http://thehill.com/policy/defense/334077-us-forces-strike-pro-regime-military-in-syria>, “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.”
Cole Harrison, executive director of Massachusetts Peace Action, said:
“Today’s strikes are extremely dangerous. The U.S. has made a direct strike on Syrian government forces and their allies. This is an escalation that brings the risk of conflict with Russia and Iran, as well as the Syrian government.
“There is no legal basis for the U.S. to attack Syrian forces. Sixteen years of war in the greater Middle East have at every step made the situation worse rather than better. We call on Congress to exercise its constitutional war powers and stop this reckless escalation immediately.”