People’s Rights and Half a Decade of US Direct Intervention in Syria

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March 15 marks the day in 2011 when anti-government protests erupted in Syria. By then, similar protests could already be found in other Arab countries in a wave dubbed the “Arab Spring.” The Syrian protests would later escalate into a civil war where global powers such as the United States, with its allied states, would initiate military actions on Syrian territory. Six years and a week later, on March 22, 2017, a US bombing struck a refugee shelter near Raqqa, allegedly killing civilians.

The Syrian people continue to bear the brunt of the effects of the imperialist intervention in Syria. On its sixth year, the war in general has displaced an estimated 6.5 million people, resulted to 4.96 million refugees  [1], and according to a UK-based human rights monitor, has killed an estimated 465,000. [2]

The United States, in the 21 st century alone, supported and was even directly involved in regime changes, especially when regimes pose threats to US interests. It has engaged in war as a response to economic crisis, aside from military interventions against countries such as Libya. [3]

What is the role of foreign powers such as the United States in the Syrian war?

From March to May 2011, Syria saw protests which later escalated into an internal armed conflict between the Syrian government and opposition forces. This would later snowball into a war with the intrusion of the United States. A Syrian think-tank warned in 2013 that US intrusion would only worsen the conflict. [4]

By December 2011, the US was revealed to have provided intelligence to various opposition forces. [5] US support would later include weapons, [6][7] military training, [8] and deployments of US special forces. [9] The US had also imposed unilateral economic sanctions against Syria.

By September 2014 the US also began conducting airstrikes directly on Syrian territory, supposedly against the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL), and against al-Qaeda in Syria. [10] These also resulted to deaths of civilians and in one instance, of Syrian military forces. [11]

It is in this overall context of increased intervention by the United States and its coalition of countries, [12] that the Syrian government sought military alliances with countries such as Russia and Iran in September 2015.

US militarist action was initially explicitly hostile against the Assad regime, but official US narratives later shifted to supposedly targeting ISIS forces on Syrian soil.

However, in a leak of a closed-door conversation, former Secretary of State John Kerry allegedly said that the Obama administration saw that the rise of ISIS would eventually force Assad to negotiate with the United States. [13]

Some commentators also saw US intervention as being motivated by the strategic location of oil supplies in the Persian Gulf area, with a US-funded military think-tank suggesting “divide and rule” tactics applied to Shia and Sunni Muslim sects as one strategy in building US alliances in the region. [14]

Is the US currently active in Syrian territory?

The US and its