President Obama announced today that the United States will be sending some 250 Special Forces soldiers to Syria. This announcement comes just five days after one of the Free Syrian Army’s (a militant rebel group in Syria heavily supported by the United States) top commanders was assassinated; the group could be on the verge of collapsing.
President Obama speaking from Germany today stated,
“Just as I approved additional support for Iraqi forces against ISIL, I’ve decided to increase U.S. support for local forces fighting ISIL in Syria, a small number of special operations forces are already on the ground in Syria and their expertise has been critical as local forces have driven ISIL out of key areas … So given their success I’ve approved the deployment of up to 250 additional U.S. personnel in Syria including special forces to keep up this momentum”.
Though the President claims the U.S. is making progress and has “momentum” in the battle against ISIS in Syria, a look at the battlefield presents a very different picture. The Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is the primary militant rebel group the U.S. supports in the battle against both the Syrian government and ISIS, is getting attacked on two fronts and appears to be in danger of collapsing.
FSA’s recent setbacks can be attributed to the Russian military’s stepping up of its support for Syrian government forces. Russia’s deployment of large amounts of military equipment, artillery batteries, and its decision to fly more combat missions with the Syrian air force has pulverized ISIS and other rebel groups–including the FSA.
To make matters worse for the FSA, the Syrian government, along with ISIS, have deployed “sleeper spy cells” into areas controlled by the FSA. One such area is the city of Idlib, located in the northwest region of Syria. In Idlib just five days ago one of the sleeper cells assassinated Imad Tabak, the FSA’s commander and chief of the 1st Coastal Division.
Imad Tabak was the FSA’s most confident leader on the battlefield, having won major victories in 2015 against both Syrian government forces and ISIS. With his death there is sure to be a lack of leadership and a measure of chaos among the FSA’s ranks.
A shift of power on the battlefield of Syria is taking place. Though President Obama insists the U.S. is making progress, there is no evidence to back it up.