Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Sitrep - 21 September, 2016

The Syrian regime declared a seven-day ceasefire over, blaming opposition fighters for repeated violations. UN investigators claim loyalists shelled 18 of its trucks making an aid delivery to civilians in the northern city of Aleppo. The international body says the attack was a war crime, although Russia – which backs the regime – is yet to weigh in.

A few days before, a US airstrike appears to have been the tipping point for the ceasefire’s failure. More than 60 of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces were killed by US aircraft in a mistaken strike near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor. The Islamic State (IS) occupies most of the city, but it appears US targeting intelligence was incomplete or inaccurate.

As more nations dedicate armed forces to the Syrian theatre, the conflict grows more complex and mistakes such as this will be more common. Another ceasefire is in the early stage of discussion, but the chaos appears to be uncontrollable for now. To some extent, that’s exactly the way the US wants the theatre to remain.

Because back in the mainland US, a series of improvised explosive devices were either detonated or failed to detonate in New York and New Jersey. An arrest of a 28-year-old Afghan immigrant was made yesterday in connection with the bombings after a short shootout with police. The devices targeted public events but failed to kill anyone, although more than twenty were injured.

The failure is a mixture of luck and poor tradecraft, the bomber was untrained and inexperienced. IS has relied on lone attackers to target Western countries for more than a year, indicating it cannot deliver trained terrorist operatives to those targets. The reason, it appears, is because its skilled operators are being killed regularly in Syria. The attraction of such people to Syria is why the US has an incentive to ring-fence the theatre and leave it in chaos.

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