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The Pronk Pops Show 1342, October 16, 2019, Story 1: Democrat Debate Demolition Derby Smashing Senator Warren — Trump Again The Winner vs Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers —  Videos –Story 2: President Trump Calls House Speaker Pelosi A Third Rate Politician In Exchange of Words — “Goodbye, we’ll see you at the polls.” — Speaker Pelosi Stormed Out of Meeting — Democrats Lying: No Trump Meltdown — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Salutes American of Italian Decendent and President of Italy — Videos

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Story 1: Democrat Debate Demolition Derby Smashing Senator Warren — Trump Again The Winner vs Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers —  Videos

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The Last American Hero – demolition derby

Michael Enters KITT Into The Demolition Derby | Knight Rider

Tucker: 2020 Democrats turn on Warren

Ingraham: Trump wins another Democratic debate

Democrats use fourth debate to unleash attacks on Warren

Fourth Democratic debate analysis and spin room interviews

Watch Democratic Debate Highlights In Ohio

Fourth Democratic debate analysis and spin room interviews

Everything Andrew Yang Said at the Fourth Democratic Debate in Ohio #yanggang

Watch Most Heated Democratic Debate Highlights In Ohio

See what Democratic candidates said about impeaching Trump

Elizabeth Warren cements status as Democratic frontrunner by being focus of rivals’ attack in 2020 debate, but it’s Bernie who gets AOC and her Squad’s coveted endorsement, as all 12 candidates unite behind impeaching Trump

  • A dozen Democratic candidates were in Westerville, Ohio, for the fourth primary debate Tuesday night
  • Senator Bernie Sanders took to the stage at Otterbein University just a few weeks after his heart attack 
  • He reassured the crowd of his health saying: ‘I’m healthy, I’m feeling great!’ 
  • Joe Biden defended his family’s name during the debate despite scrutiny in the Ukraine scandal and his son’s international business dealings saying: ‘My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong’ 
  • Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was interviewed by ABC News Tuesday morning, where no topic was off limits 
  • Elizabeth Warren has recently emerged as the frontrunner – surpassing Biden in several polls this month 
  • She is facing controversy over claims she was forced from a teaching position because she was pregnant, which critics point out she contradicted in the past
  • Tuesday’s debate started with a united front with all candidates calling for Trump’s impeachment
  • In the first hour Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota delivered an impassioned attack on Trump and called out Elizabeth Warren by questioning her Medicare for All single-payer healthcare plan
  • In the second hour of the debate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both military veterans, went head to head over U.S. presence in the Middle East and Syria
  • Mayor Buttigieg and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke sparred over his proposed mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles

Democratic presidential candidates who took the stage for the fourth presidential debate in Ohio called for Donald Trump’s impeachment for ‘selling out’ the American people – then blasted emerging front-runner Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

But during a prime-time event where Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had to field questions about both his health and his age, it is the 78-year old Vermonter who got a jolt when it was revealed New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would be endorsing his campaign at a Queens rally Saturday. Fellow squad member Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota also endorsed Sanders but it’s unclear if she will be at Saturday’s event.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has dominated polling for months, began the debate by defending the conduct of his son’s work in Ukraine on a day Hunter Biden fielded questions during a sit-down interview on his work for a Ukrainian energy company. He said he and his son had ‘done nothing wrong’.

During the first portion of the debate, he spoke on impeachment and his son, then remained on the sidelines for long stretches while Warren, who has jumped in national and state polls, fielded attacks from rivals.

Biden went after Warren directly later in the debate when he said his political rivals didn’t measure up to his accomplishments.

‘I’m the only one on the stage who’s gotten anything really big done,’ Biden said.

Warren countered by citing her work as an architect for what became the Consumer Financial Control Board before she got elected to the Senate. ‘I convinced people to vote for it,’ Biden responded.

Warren parried that she was ‘deeply grateful to president Obama who fought so hard to make sure that agency was passed into law’.

Tuesday's Presidential Debate: (From left to right) Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pette Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Beto O'Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, and Julián Castro took to the debate stage Tuesday night in Westerville, Ohio hosted at Otterbein University

The calm before the storm: Tuesday's debate started with the candidates putting on a united front in tearing into Donald Trump and backing his impeachment

The calm before the storm: Tuesday’s debate started with the candidates putting on a united front in tearing into Donald Trump and backing his impeachment

Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden smiled as they took the stage Tuesday night before they called for Trump's impeachment, with Joe Biden calling him 'the most corrupt president in all our history'

Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden smiled as they took the stage Tuesday night before they called for Trump’s impeachment, with Joe Biden calling him ‘the most corrupt president in all our history’

Tuesday's debate was moderated by The New York Times national editor Marc Lacey (left), moderator and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (center) and moderator and CNN anchor Erin Burnett (right)

Tuesday’s debate was moderated by The New York Times national editor Marc Lacey (left), moderator and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (center) and moderator and CNN anchor Erin Burnett (right)

Former Vice President Joe Biden listened as Senator Elizabeth Warren slammed President Donald Trump in the first hour of the fourth Democratic primary debate on Tuesday

Former Vice President Joe Biden listened as Senator Elizabeth Warren slammed President Donald Trump in the first hour of the fourth Democratic primary debate on Tuesday

Sanders also pushed back and Biden for his claim at the expense of the group’s accomplishments.

‘Joe, you talked about working with Republicans and getting things done. But you know what, you also got done, and I say this as a good friend – You got the disastrous war in Iraq done. You got a bankruptcy bill, which is hurting middle class families all over this country. You got trade agreements like NAFTA and (trade relations) with China done, which have cost us 4 million jobs,’ he said.

Warren spoke for nearly 23 minutes during the three-hour debate, with Biden getting the second-most time, but a full six minutes less, followed by Klobuchar.

The Massachusetts senator responded to a question from CNN after the debate about attacks from some rivals that her health plan would soak the middle class.

‘Yes your taxes will go up, but your overall costs will go down,’ she said.

Warren repeated her call to break up big tech companies like Facebook and Google – another of her proposals that brought her criticism from her rivals.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang compared it to people to wanting to use the number four search engine. ‘There is a reason why no one is using Bing today,’ he quipped.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke over his assault weapon buyback program, and said there was no time for ‘purity tests.’

O’Rourke said the nation must not ‘be limited by the polls and the consultants and the focus groups.’

That prompted Ban angry rejoinder from Buttigieg, who shot back: ‘The problem isn’t the polls. The problems is the policy. And I don’t need lessons from you on courage, political or personal.’

Others blasted Warren for the cost of her Medicare-for-all plan.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota told her: ‘I’m sorry Elizabeth. You are making Republican talking points in this room,’ adding: ‘We owe it to the American people to tell them where we will send the invoice.’ She told Warren, ‘The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done.’

‘I don’t understand why you believe the only way to deliver affordable coverage is to obliterate private plans,’ South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg told Warren.

California Sen. Kamala Harris pushed Harris to join her demand that Twitter suspend Donald Trump’s account due to his incendiary tweets.

‘I would urge you to join me,’ she said, saying Trump used the platform to ‘intimidate witnesses, to threaten witnesses, to obstruct justice.’

Warren shot back: ‘I don’t just want to push Trump off Twitter, I want to push him out of the White House.’

Biden beams as he takes a selfie with supporters after the fourth Democratic primary debate in Ohio last night

Biden beams as he takes a selfie with supporters after the fourth Democratic primary debate in Ohio last night

Biden embraces Warren as he spoke to her last night following a question about their ages

Biden in discussion with Sanders during a break in the primary debate

Biden embraces Warren as he spoke to her last night following a question about their ages (left) and Biden in discussion with Sanders during a break in the primary debate (right)

Biden takes a sip from a CNN mug last night while pointing during the fourth debate between the Democrat White House hopefuls

Biden takes a sip from a CNN mug last night while pointing during the fourth debate between the Democrat White House hopefuls

Senators Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders shake hands during the debate, the elder Senator declared last night he was 'feeling great' in his first stage outing since suffering a heart attack

Senators Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders shake hands during the debate, the elder Senator declared last night he was ‘feeling great’ in his first stage outing since suffering a heart attack

Sanders hugs billionaire activist Tom Steyer at the conclusion of the fourth U.S. Democratic presidential candidates

Sanders hugs billionaire activist Tom Steyer at the conclusion of the fourth U.S. Democratic presidential candidates

A record 12 Democratic 2020 candidates took to the debate stage in Ohio Tuesday night and immediately united in calling for Donald Trump – the man they all have been planning to run against – to be impeached with Joe Biden calling him ‘the most corrupt president in all our history.’

Meeting for the first time since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proclaimed a formal impeachment inquiry, the candidates blasted Trump’s push to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens, and accused him of self-dealing and ‘selling out’ the American people.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has jumped in the polls, fielded the first question at the fourth Democratic debate. An early caller for Trump’s impeachment, she said: ‘This president has obstructed justice and had done it repeatedly,’ Warren said.

‘Impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences,’ Warren continued.

Sanders, on stage for the first time since his heart attack, called Trump: ‘The most corrupt president in the history of this country.’

Sanders accused Trump of ‘enriching himself while using the Oval Office … in order to get dirt on a presidential candidate is beyond comprehensible.’ He called for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to ‘do the right thing and allow a free and fair trial in the Senate.’

Biden, whose son Hunter’s business in Ukraine featured in Trump’s push for a probe by the Ukrainian government, called Trump ‘the most corrupt president in modern history and I think all of our history.’

The dozen candidates met in Ohio for the first time since 10 front-runners met in Houston last month. It was the largest Democratic debate in recent memory. Others split candidates into separate pools.

The intervening period featured a dramatic move among House Democrats toward opening an impeachment inquiry of President Trump, after a whistle-blower alleged the president abused his office by pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens.

Billionaire Tom Steyer made his debut on the debate stage Tuesday night where he slammed Donald Trump as the 'criminal of the White House'

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg took to the stage and said he is the Democratic nominee that will be the 'president that can turn the page'

Billionaire Tom Steyer (left) made his debut on the debate stage Tuesday night where he slammed Donald Trump as the ‘criminal of the White House’ and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (right) claimed he is the Democratic nominee that will be the ‘president that can turn the page’

Sen. Amy Klobuchar went head to head with Elizabeth Warren over healthcare plans, as former housing secretary Julian Castro looked on during the presidential debate hosted at Otterbein University

Sen. Amy Klobuchar went head to head with Elizabeth Warren over healthcare plans, as former housing secretary Julian Castro looked on during the presidential debate hosted at Otterbein University

Sen. Kamala Harris defended women's health and rights when she spoke at the podium Tuesday night

In a poignant moment New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker warned his fellow Democratic candidates against 'tearing each other down because we have a different plan'

Sen. Kamala Harris (left) defended women’s health and rights when she spoke at the podium Tuesday night and in a poignant moment New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (right) warned his fellow Democratic candidates against ‘tearing each other down because we have a different plan’

Sen Klobuchar dug into Elizabeth Warren saying she hasn't specified how she'll finance Medicare for All single-payer health care plan under her presidency

Sen Klobuchar dug into Elizabeth Warren saying she hasn’t specified how she’ll finance Medicare for All single-payer health care plan under her presidency

Biden delivered yet another defense of his son, on a day when Hunter Biden told ABC he would forego foreign work if his father wins the presidency, acknowledged some responsibility for the appearance of favoritism, and admitted he got jobs due to his father’s name.

‘My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong. I carried out the policy of the United States in rooting out corruption in Ukraine,’ Joe Biden said when pressed on the issue – while seeking to steer clear of details.

‘My son’s statement speaks for itself what I think is important is we focus on why it’s so important to remove this man from office,’ Biden said. ‘Rudy Giuliani, the president and his thugs, have already proven that they are in fact flat lying,’ Biden intoned, referencing Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who pushed Ukraine to probe the Bidens.

Biden argued the focus should be on Trump.

‘This president on three occasions, three occasions has invited foreign governments and heads of government to get engaged in trying to alter our elections. The fact is that it is outrageous. Rudy Giuliani, the president and his thugs have already proven that they, in fact, are flat lying. What we have to do now is focus on Donald Trump. He doesn’t want me to be the candidate. He is going after me because he knows if I get the nomination, I will beat him like a drum,’ he said. Trump did focus attacks on as the poll leader throughout the summer while officials were deliberating on how to push Ukraine.

His comments came after Biden adviser Anita Dunn told DailyMail.com of Hunter’s performance in an interview designed to move past the issue: ‘He answered all the questions.’

Sen. Kamala Harris of California, a former prosecutor, said Trump ‘has committed crimes in plain sight.’ She said Trump had been ‘selling out the American people.’

‘On this issue with Ukraine he’s been selling out democracy,’ Harris said, standing by her statement that she has seen enough evidence to vote to impeach.

‘I know a confession when I see it,’ she said.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said he feels as much ‘outrage’ as fellow Democrats. But he cautioned: ‘This has got to be about patriotism and not partisanship.’

Speaking on impeachment, Democratic presidential hopeful Representative for Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard (left, alongside Tom Steyer) said: 'If impeachment is driven by these hyper-partisan interests, it will only further divide an already terribly divided country'

Speaking on impeachment, Democratic presidential hopeful Representative for Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard (left, alongside Tom Steyer) said: ‘If impeachment is driven by these hyper-partisan interests, it will only further divide an already terribly divided country’

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, billionaire Tom Steyer and Sen. Cory Booker pictured from left to right on the debate stage

At the top of the debate the candidates squabbled over health care plans and taxes on billionaires

Businessman Andrew Yang advocated for his $1,000-a-month universal basic income policy proposal on Tuesday saying the plan would help families as he mentioned his own two sons, adding that one is autistic

Businessman Andrew Yang advocated for his $1,000-a-month universal basic income policy proposal on Tuesday saying the plan would help families as he mentioned his own two sons, adding that one is autistic

No beef with billionaires: During the Tuesday debate Elizabeth Warren said 'I don't have beef with billionaires' while defending taxing the rich, adding they should pitch in two cents 'so every other kid in America has a chance to make it'

No beef with billionaires: During the Tuesday debate Elizabeth Warren said ‘I don’t have beef with billionaires’ while defending taxing the rich, adding they should pitch in two cents ‘so every other kid in America has a chance to make it’

Trump's double standard: Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro blasted Trump for 'caging kids on the border' while he is 'effectively letting ISIS prisoners run free' in the Middle East. 'He has made a tremendous mistake, a total disaster in Syria,' he added

Putting Russia in check: Beto O'Rourke argued that the U.S. must keep Russia accountable for Putin's corruption and dropped in a lick of Spanish saying 'ademas' in place of 'furthermore'

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro (left) blasted Trump for ‘caging kids on the border’ while he is ‘effectively letting ISIS prisoners run free’ in the Middle East and Beto O’Rourke (right) argued that the U.S. must keep Russia accountable for Putin’s corruption and dropped in a lick of Spanish saying ‘ademas’ in place of ‘furthermore’

Biden, who has taken heat for a series of verbal stumbles on the campaign trail, flubbed when he said: 'I want to eliminate the capital gains tax – I would double the capital gains tax' – one of his signature tax proposals on Tuesday

Biden, who has taken heat for a series of verbal stumbles on the campaign trail, flubbed when he said: ‘I want to eliminate the capital gains tax – I would double the capital gains tax’ – one of his signature tax proposals on Tuesday

In one friendly moment Sen. Bernie Sanders joked 'Are you suggesting I’m Vladimir Putin?' to Biden and the two shared a hug

In one friendly moment Sen. Bernie Sanders joked ‘Are you suggesting I’m Vladimir Putin?’ to Biden and the two shared a hug

Tuesday's debate, hosted at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, saw the candidates disagree on having troops in the Middle East, healthcare, and taxing the rich

Tuesday’s debate, hosted at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, saw the candidates disagree on having troops in the Middle East, healthcare, and taxing the rich

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota delivered an impassioned attack on Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

‘He’s digging up dirt on an opponent. That’s illegal conduct,’ said Klobuchar, also a former prosecutor. ‘I’m still waiting to find out from him how making that call to the head of Ukraine and trying to get him involved in interfering in our election makes America great again.’

‘I would like to hear from him how coddling up to Vladimir Putin makes America great again. It doesn’t make America great again, it makes Russia great again,’ she said, playing off Trump’s campaign slogan.

Former Obama Housing and Urban Development secretary Julian Castro said of the impeachment effort: ‘We can walk and chew gum at the same time.’

Biden, who has taken heat for a series of verbal stumbles on the campaign trail, flubbed when he said: ‘I want to eliminate the capital gains tax – I would double the capital gains tax’ – one of his signature tax proposals.

‘The rich are not like you and me,’ said Warren, calling for her tax on multi-millionaires’ accumulated wealth.

Klobuchar didn’t denounce the idea, but said: ‘Just because we have different ideas and get to the same place in terms of beating Donald Trump and taking this on – we are in Ohio, we can win Ohio in the presidency, but only if we unite … and [not] go fighting against each other.’

But as the debate shifted quickly from impeachment to health, the united front crumbled rapidly.

Elizabeth Warren came under attack from her fellow Democrats for not being more specific about how she would pay for her universal health care plan, which some economists predict could cost in the trillions.

‘I have made clear what my principles are here. That is costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations and for hard working middle class families, costing will go down,’ the Massachusetts senator said of her support for Medicare for All. ‘Costs will go up for wealthy, for big corporations. They will not go up for middle class families. I will not sign a bill into law that raises their costs. Because costs are what people care about.’

In the second hour of the debate Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both military veterans, went head to head over U.S. presence in the Middle East and Syria. Gabbard called U.S. boots in Syria a 'regime change war'

 

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg hit back saying 'Respectfully, congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong. The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values'

In the second hour of the debate Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both military veterans, went head to head over U.S. presence in the Middle East and Syria. Gabbard called U.S. boots in Syria a ‘regime change war’. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg hit back saying: ‘Respectfully, congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong. The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values’

Getting heated: Buttigieg and former Congressman Beto O'Rourke also squabbled over O’Rourke's proposed mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles. Buttigieg called the policy impractical and after some back and forth slammed: 'I don't need lessons from you on courage — political or personal'

Getting heated: Buttigieg and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke also squabbled over O’Rourke’s proposed mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles. Buttigieg called the policy impractical and after some back and forth slammed: ‘I don’t need lessons from you on courage — political or personal’

Pete Buttigieg went on the attack against Warren, who has lead recent polls for the Democratic nomination, arguing that her universal health care plan would divide the country over health care.

‘I don’t understand why you believe the only way to deliver affordable coverage is to obliterate private plans,’ he said. ‘Our country will be polarized, more than now, after everything we have been through, after everything we are about to go through, this country will be more divide. Why divide this country over health care when there’s a better way to deliver coverage for all?’

Amy Klobuchar also struck out at Warren, saying she hasn’t said how she will pay for her plan.

‘I’m sorry Elizabeth,’ she said. ‘You are making Republican talking points in this room.’

Klobuchar went on to say: ‘Bernie is being honest. We owe it to the American people to tell them where we will send the invoice.’

Sanders had acknowledged earlier in the debate taxes will go up under his Medicare for All plan.

‘As somebody who wrote the damn bill, as I said, let’s be clear. Under the Medicare for All bill that I wrote, premiums are gone. Co-payments are gone. Deductibles are gone. All out-of-pocket expenses are gone. We’re going to do better than the Canadians do. That’s what they have managed to do. At the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of people will save money on their health care bills. I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up. They will go up significantly for the wealthy and for virtually everybody, the tax increase will be substantially less than what they were paying for premiums and out of pocket expansions,’ he said.

‘I appreciate Elizabeth’s work,’ she added but then said: ‘The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done. We can get this public option done.’

Both Klobuchar and Kamala Harris expressed frustration about how many times Democrats have argued about health care, noting they are in the fourth debate and saying the same things on the issue.

‘What bothers me about this discussion, which we had so many times, is that we don’t talk about the things that I’m hearing about from regular Americans. That’s long-term care,’ Klobuchar said. ‘We need long-term care insurance and strengthen Medicare. In Ohio that has been hit by the opioid epidemic, we need to take on the pharmaceutical companies and make them pay for the addictions they have caused in the people they have killed.’

And Harris got an extended round of applause for standing up for the abortion issue, which is of huge importance to Democratic primary voters who are worried judges appointed by Trump will revoke Roe vs. Wade.

‘This is the sixth [sic] debate we have had in this presidential cycle. Not one word with all of these discussions about health care, on women’s access to health care. It’s outrageous. There are states that have passed laws that will virtually prevent women from having access to reproductive health care. It’s not an exaggeration to say women will die because these Republican legislatures in these various states who are out of touch with America are telling women what to do with their bodies. Women are the majority of the population in this country. People need to keep their hands off of women’s bodies and let women make the decisions about their own lives,’ she said as the heavily Democratic audience cheered loudly.

When the debate turned to foreign policy, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard faced rejoinders from Democrats when she called out both President Trump and threw out blanket attacks on those who back what she termed a ‘regime change war’ in Syria.

Tom takes on Trump: Speaking on breaking up big tech companies, billionaire Tom Steyer directed a message to Trump and said: 'I would love to take him on as a real businessman'

Tom takes on Trump: Speaking on breaking up big tech companies, billionaire Tom Steyer directed a message to Trump and said: ‘I would love to take him on as a real businessman’

Mayor Pete Buttigieg's husband Chasten Buttigieg pictured in the audience of the fourth Democratic primary debate

Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s husband Chasten Buttigieg pictured in the audience of the fourth Democratic primary debate

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and entrepreneur Andrew Yang shared a high-five alongside Mayor Buttigieg during Tuesday's debate

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and entrepreneur Andrew Yang shared a high-five alongside Mayor Buttigieg during Tuesday’s debate

‘First of all, we’ve got to understand the reality of the situation there, which is that the slaughter of the Kurds being done by Turkey is yet another negative consequence of the regime change war we’ve been waging in Syria,’ Gabbard said. ‘Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hand, but so do many of the politicians in our country from both parties who have supported this ongoing regime change war in Syria that started in 2011,’ she continued, before blasting members of the ‘mainstream media’ who she said have been ‘cheerleading this regime change war.’

‘Just two days ago the New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears. This morning a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia. Completely despicable. As president I will end these regime change wars,’ she said.

Gabbard was referencing a recent Times piece that noted the lawmaker, who met with Assad in Syria and has accused fellow Democrats of ‘rigging’ the race, had injected ‘chaos’ in the race, while drawing supportive comments from former Trump strategist Steve Bannon and online approval from Russian bots.

Buttigieg took on Gabbard.

‘Well, respectfully, congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong. The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values.’

Buttigieg, who like Gabbard has been deployed overseas as part of the military, said it was wrong to ‘abandon the international stage’ or ‘think our only choices are between endless war and total isolation.’

He said many U.S. troops are ‘ashamed of what their country has done’ by abandoning Kurdish allies who served as a ground force to take on ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

‘I don’t think we should have troops in the Middle East,’ said Warren. But she said the U.S. should extract its troops ‘the right way,’ then teed off on Trump, saying he has ‘sucked up to dictator,’ has ‘cut and run on our allies,’ and ‘has enriched himself at the expense of the United States of America.’

Warren tried to turn the tables on her rivals when asked about her plan to tax multimillionaires.

‘My question is not why do Bernie and I support a wealth tax. It’s why is it does everyone else on this stage think it is more important to protect billionaires than it is to invest in an entire generation of Americans?’ she asked.

‘No one is supporting billionaires,’ Biden interjected.

Buttigieg said he was ‘all for’ a wealth tax. ‘I’m all for just about everything that was just mentioned in these answers. Let me tell, though, how this looks from the industrial Midwest where I live. Washington politicians, congressmen and senators, saying all the right things, offering the most elegant policy prescriptions, and nothing changes,’ he said.

Added Warren: ‘So understand, taxing income is not going to get you where you need to be the way taxing wealth does, that the rich are not like you and me. The really, really billionaires are making their money off their accumulated wealth, and it just keeps growing. We need a wealth tax in order to make investments in the next generation.’

In the second hour Bernie Sanders reassured 'I'm healthy, I'm feeling great' after he suffered a heart attack several weeks ago. He thanked his Democratic rivals on stage with him 'for their love, for their prayers, for their well wishes.' When Cory Booker joked, 'Senator Sanders is in favor of medical marijuana', he joked, 'I'm not on it tonight'

In the second hour Bernie Sanders reassured ‘I’m healthy, I’m feeling great’ after he suffered a heart attack several weeks ago. He thanked his Democratic rivals on stage with him ‘for their love, for their prayers, for their well wishes.’ When Cory Booker joked, ‘Senator Sanders is in favor of medical marijuana’, he joked, ‘I’m not on it tonight’

'I'm feeling great!' Sanders smiled as his peers including Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden applauded him after he shared his health update with the crowd

‘I’m feeling great!’ Sanders smiled as his peers including Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden applauded him after he shared his health update with the crowd

Sen. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren sparred when Harris insisted on suspending Donald Trump from Twitter as Warren discussed breaking up and regulating tech giants. Warren quipped: 'I don't just want to push Donald Trump off Twitter. I want to push him out of the White House'

Sen. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren sparred when Harris insisted on suspending Donald Trump from Twitter as Warren discussed breaking up and regulating tech giants. Warren quipped: ‘I don’t just want to push Donald Trump off Twitter. I want to push him out of the White House’

CNN anchor Erin Burnett took the debate in a fraught direction when she asked a series of candidates questions about their age and asked Biden, Warren and Sanders their views of it. Biden quipped back it made him more wise for the job

CNN anchor Erin Burnett took the debate in a fraught direction when she asked a series of candidates questions about their age and asked Biden, Warren and Sanders their views of it. Biden quipped back it made him more wise for the job

Moderators pointed out Biden, 76, would be 80 in office. He replied: 'Look, one of the reasons I'm running is because of my age and my experience, with it comes wisdom. We need someone to take office this time around who on day one can stand on the world stage, command the respect of world leaders from Putin to our allies, and know exactly what has to be done to get this country back on track'

CNN's Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper and the New York Times' Marc Lacey pictured at the moderators desk

CNN’s Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper and the New York Times’ Marc Lacey pictured at the moderators desk

CNN anchor Erin Burnett took the debate in a fraught direction when she asked a series of candidates questions about their age.

‘To the issue of candidates and their health: Senator Sanders, I want to start with you,’ she began.

‘I’m healthy. I’m feeling great,’ Sanders interrupted, drawing laughter from the crowd.

‘And Senator Sanders is in favor of medical marijuana. I want to make sure that’s clear as well,’ Booker jested.

‘I’m not on it tonight,’ Sanders insisted.

‘Senator, we are all very glad you’re feeling well,’ Burnett said.

Then she posed a ‘question on a lot of people’s minds … You’re 78 years old, and you just had a heart attack. How do you reassure democratic voters that you’re up to the stress of the presidency?’

‘Well, let me invite you all to a major rally we’re having in Queens, New York,’ Sanders said. ‘We’re going to have a special guest at that event, and we are going to be mounting a vigorous campaign all over this country. That is how I think I can reassure the American people.’

‘But let me take this moment, if I might, to thank so many people from all over this country, including many of my colleagues up here, for their love, for their prayers, for their well wishes,’ Sanders continued. ‘And I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and I’m so happy to be back here with you this evening.’ That drew sustained applause from candidates and audience members alike.

Burnett then asked Biden if he could handle the office of the presidency being inaugurated at the age of 80. She also put an age question to Warren, 71.

Any of the three of them would all be the oldest president ever inaugurated in their first term in U.S. history if elected.

The end of the debate: At the close of the heated debate Joe Biden shook hands with Pete Buttigieg

The end of the debate: At the close of the heated debate Joe Biden shook hands with Pete Buttigieg

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg then posed with fans following the wrap up of the debate+46

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg then posed with fans following the wrap up of the debate

Say cheese: Biden snapped selfies with supporters following the fourth Democratic primary where he defended his age and boasted he's the most qualified man for the job

Say cheese: Biden snapped selfies with supporters following the fourth Democratic primary where he defended his age and boasted he’s the most qualified man for the job

Cool down: Elizabeth Warren took a swing of coconut water after the debate where she was attacked multiple times and treated like the frontrunner of the political race

Cool down: Elizabeth Warren took a swing of coconut water after the debate where she was attacked multiple times and treated like the frontrunner of the political race

Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg made sure to get a photo with Joe Biden and supporters before exiting the stage

Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg made sure to get a photo with Joe Biden and supporters before exiting the stage

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Ilhan Omar

On Tuesday it was reported that Congress ‘Squad’ member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (left) would endorse Sen. Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign. Fellow member Ilhan Omar (right) also endorsed Sanders Tuesday night

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7577743/TWELVE-Democratic-candidates-meet-stage-Ohio.html

Story 2: President Trump Calls House Speaker Pelosi A Third Rate Politician In Exchange of Words — “Goodbye, we’ll see you at the polls.” — Speaker Pelosi Stormed Out of Meeting — Democrats Lying: No Trump Meltdown — Videos

McCarthy says Pelosi stormed out of meeting with Trump over Syria

Hannity: Trump calls Pelosi a ‘third-rate politician’

Nancy Pelosi: Trump had a meltdown in meeting

Day 1,000: Nancy Pelosi Says Trump Had A ‘Meltdown’ At The White House | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

 

‘See you at the polls’: Trump and Pelosi have it out

 

He said she’s a “third-grade” politician. She said he’s having a meltdown.

And with that President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chalked up the latest explosive meeting that ended abruptly with a walkout at the White House.

It’s a familiar ritual, with Trump and congressional leaders meeting on official business, only to see the session devolve into colorful, name-calling commentary that’s a new kind of addition to the history books. But this time, against the backdrop of the fast-moving impeachment inquiry, Pelosi arrived not just as the leader of the opposing party, but as the speaker who could determine Trump’s political future.

The administration called in congressional leadership to discuss the situation in Syria. The House had just voted, 354-60, to overwhelmingly oppose the president’s announced U.S. troop withdrawal, a rare bipartisan rebuke. Trump’s action has opened the door for a Turkish military attack on Syrian Kurds who have been aligned with the U.S. in fighting the country’s long-running war.

Trump kicked off the meeting bragging about his “nasty” letter to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, according to a Democrat familiar with the meeting who was granted anonymity to discuss it. In the letter, Trump warned the Turkish leader, with exclamation points, not to be “slaughtering” the Kurds. The person called Trump’s opening a lengthy, bombastic monologue.

Pelosi mentioned the House vote and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, started to read the president a quote from former Defense Secretary James Mattis on the need to keep U.S. troops in Syria to prevent a resurgent of Islamic State fighters.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., listens while speaking with reporters after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., listens while speaking with reporters after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

But Trump cut Schumer off, complaining that Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general. You know why? He wasn’t tough enough.” Trump went on, “I captured ISIS.”

Pelosi explained to Trump that Russia has always wanted a “foothold in the Middle East,” and now it has one with the U.S. withdrawal, according to a senior Democratic aide who was also granted anonymity.

“All roads with you lead to Putin,” the speaker said.

Then it began.

Trump said to Pelosi, “I hate ISIS more than you do.”

Pelosi responded, “You don’t know that.”

Schumer intervened at one point and said, “Is your plan to rely on the Syrians and the Turks?”

Trump replied, “Our plan is to keep the American people safe.”

Pelosi said: “That’s not a plan. That’s a goal.”

Trump turned to Pelosi and complained about former President Barack Obama’s “red line” over Syria. According to Schumer, he then called her “a third-rate politician.”

At that point, the genteel Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House Majority Leader, interjected, “This is not useful.”

Pelosi and Hoyer stood and left the meeting. As they did, Trump said, “Goodbye, we’ll see you at the polls.”

From the White House driveway, Pelosi told reporters Trump was having some kind of “meltdown” inside. She said they had to leave because Trump was unable to grasp the reality of the situation.

Later, she would insist he even botched the insult, calling her “third-grade” rather than “third-rate.”

The impeachment inquiry never came up, she said.

Trump insisted later on Twitter that it was Pelosi who had a “total meltdown,” calling her “a very sick person!”

He also tweeted pictures from the room. “Do you think they like me?” he asked mockingly about one, showing Pelosi and Schumer looking exhausted and glum.

“Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” he tweeted with another.

In that photo, Pelosi can be seen, surrounded by congressional leaders and military brass around a table at the White House, finger outpointed. She is standing up, literally, to Trump.

Pelosi turned the photo into the banner on her Twitter page.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks with reporters after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks with reporters after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump speaks during a reception for Italian President Sergio Mattarella in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-7582015/See-polls-Trump-Pelosi-out.html

Story 4: President Trump Salutes American of Italian Decedent and President of Italy — Videos

Trump hosts White House reception for Italian president

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The Pronk Pops Show 1335, October 7, 2019, Story 1: United States and North Korea Talks Broken Down For Now — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Will Bring The Troops Home from Syria — Warmongering Interventionists Oppose Trump — Videos

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Story 1: President Trump Will Bring The U.S. Troops Home from Northeastern Syria — Neocon Warmongering Interventionists Oppose Trump — Trump Ending the Endless Intervention in The Middle East — Long Overdue — Videos

Graham compares Trump to Obama, calls his strategy a ‘big win for ISIS’

Republicans slam Trump over withdrawal of troops from Syria

Trump issues dire warning to Turkey over Syria invasion

Trump’s decision to withdraw from northern Syria may fail: Analyst

US presence in northeast Syria amid Turkey threat

The Middle East’s cold war, explained

The challenge for US with Russia in Syria

Syria’s war: Who is fighting and why

Here’s why the Russian Orthodox Church is deeply connected to the Syrian War

Top two lawmakers blast Trump’s move to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria

by Reuters
Monday, 7 October 2019 18:06 GMT

The top lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on Monday condemned the decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria, which critics fear could open the way for a Turkish strike on Kurdish-led fighters in the area.

“This decision poses a dire threat to regional security and stability, and sends a dangerous message to Iran and Russia, as well as our allies, that the United States is no longer a trusted partner,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said in a statement calling on Trump to “reverse this dangerous decision.”

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement: “A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.” (Reporting by Makini Brice, Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Lambert)

Trump sends strong, conflicting signals on Syria, Turkey

By LITA C. BALDOR, MATTHEW LEE and ROBERT BURNS28 minutes ago

FILE – In this Wednesday, July 11, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump, left, talks with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as they arrive together for a family photo at a summit of heads of state and government at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The White House says Turkey will soon invade Northern Syria, casting uncertainty on the fate of the Kurdish fighters allied with the U.S. against in a campaign against the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing unusually wide criticism, President Donald Trump sent out strong but conflicting signals on the “endless war” in Syria and Middle East on Monday. He declared U.S. troops would step aside for an expected Turkish attack on Kurds who have fought alongside Americans for years but then threatened to destroy the Turks’ economy if they went too far.

Even Trump’s staunchest Republican allies expressed outrage at the prospect of abandoning Syrian Kurds who had fought the Islamic State group with U.S. troops. Trump’s decision appeared to be the latest example of an approach to foreign policy that critics condemn as impulsive, that is sometimes reversed and frequently is untethered to the advice of his national security aides.

Pentagon and State Department officials held out the possibility of persuading Turkey to abandon its expected invasion.

In recent weeks, the U.S. and Turkey had reached an apparent accommodation of Turkish concerns about the presence of Kurdish fighters, seen in Turkey as a threat. American and Turkish soldiers had been conducting joint patrols in a zone along the border. As part of that work, barriers designed to defend the Kurds were dismantled amid assurances that Turkey would not invade.

 

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Graham said Turkey’s NATO membership should be suspended if it attacks into northeastern Turkey, potentially annihilating Kurdish fighters who acted as a U.S. proxy army in a five-year fight to eliminate the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate. Graham, who had talked Trump out of a withdrawal from Syria last December, said letting Turkey invade would be a mistake of historic proportion.

“It’s going to lead to ISIS reemergence,” he told Fox News.

U.S. involvement in Syria has been fraught with peril since it started in 2014 with the insertion of small numbers of special operations forces to recruit, train, arm and advise local fighters to combat the Islamic State. Trump entered the White House in 2017 intent on getting out of Syria, and even before the counter-IS military campaign reclaimed the last militant strongholds early this year, he declared victory and said troops would leave.

The strong pushback on Capitol Hill to the late Sunday night announcement prompted Trump to recast his decision but with renewed bombast, portraying it as a threat to strangle Turkey if it carries out its announced intent to invade.

Officials suggested that Trump’s threats against Turkey on Monday morning were reactions to the overwhelming criticism of his earlier announcement that the U.S. would withdraw troops and get them out of the way of the Turkish forces. That announcement came after Trump spoke by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

One official described a botched effort by the White House on Sunday night, putting out a statement that appeared aimed at making Trump look bold for ending a war. The official said attempts by the Pentagon and State Department to make the statement stronger in its opposition to Turkey’s military action were unsuccessful. But in what the official described as a “exercise in damage control” Monday morning, the Pentagon made it clear to the Turkish military that “there will be a major break in relations if you do this.”

The official added that Erdogan appeared to be reconsidering his earlier resolve because he was relatively quiet Monday. But the official cautioned that even if pressure from the U.S. and Europe succeeds in getting Erdogan to back down, the damage done to relations with the Kurds may be irreparable.

An official familiar with the Erdogan call said the Turkish president was “ranting” at Trump, saying the safe zone was not working and that Turkey couldn’t trust the U.S. military to do what was needed. And in reaction, Trump said the U.S. wanted no part of an invasion and would withdraw troops.

The announcement threw the military situation in Syria into fresh chaos and injected deeper uncertainty into U.S. relations with European allies. A French official, speaking on condition of anonymity on a sensitive topic, said France wasn’t informed ahead of time. A Foreign Ministry statement warned Turkey to avoid any action that would harm the international coalition against the Islamic State and noted the Kurds had been essential allies, but entirely omitted any mention of the United States.

Trump defended his decision, acknowledging in tweets that “the Kurds fought with us” but adding that they “were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.”

“I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” he wrote.

Hours after the White House announcement, two senior State Department officials minimized the effects of the U.S. action, telling reporters that Turkey may not go through with a large-scale invasion and the U.S. was still trying to discourage it. Both officials spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss what led to the internal White House decision.

Among the first to leave were about 30 U.S. troops from two outposts who would be in the immediate area of a Turkish invasion. It’s unclear whether others among the roughly 1,000 U.S. forces in northeastern Syria would be moved, but officials said there is no plan for any to leave Syria entirely.

Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that a U.S. withdrawal from Syria would be a major boost to Russia’s position there.

He added that other allies in the region, including the Kurds, will “look at this withdrawal as U.S. unwillingness to stand up for its rights and maintain its alliances in the region.”

Trump’s move came at a pivotal moment of his presidency. House Democrats are marching forward with their impeachment inquiry into whether he compromised national security or abused his office by seeking negative information on former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival, from foreign countries.

As he faces the impeachment inquiry, Trump has appeared more focused on making good on his political pledges, even at the risk of sending a troubling signal to American allies abroad.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said early Monday on “Fox & Friends” that he had not been briefed by the president about the decision and he had concerns.

“I want to make sure we keep our word for those who fight with us and help us,” he said, adding that, “If you make a commitment and somebody is fighting with you, America should keep their word.”

Former Trump administration officials also expressed alarm.

Nikki Haley, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the U.S. “must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. … Leaving them to die is a big mistake.”

Turkey considers the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged an insurgency against Turkey for 35 years.

___

With contributions from Associated Press writers Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul; Zeina Karam and Sarah El Deeb in Beirut and Lori Hinnant in Paris.

https://apnews.com/ac3115b4eb564288a03a5b8be868d2e5

American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War

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American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War
Part of the military intervention against ISIL (Operation Inherent Resolve),
Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil War
Secretary Kerry Shakes Hands With Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Before Bilateral Meeting in Austria Focused on Syria (21785218013).jpgKurdish YPG Fighter (22806739779).jpg
Top: Bilateral Meeting in Austria Focused on SyriaBottom: Kurdish YPJ soldier
Date 22 September 2014 – present
(5 years, 2 weeks and 4 days)
Location
Result Ongoing operations

Belligerents
Coalition of foreign countries
Seal of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.svg CJTF–OIR
Air war and ground forces

Airstrikes only

Local ground forces
Flag of Syrian Democratic Forces.svg Syrian Democratic Forces

Limited involvement’
Iraqi Kurdistan

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant[15]
[16][17][18]


 al-Qaeda

 Turkistan Islamic Party[29]


 Ahrar al-Sham (Nov. 2014 airstrikes, intentionality disputed)[30][31]

 Syrian Arab Republic (limited 2017–2018 strikes)[32]
Iran (limited aircraft shoot downs)[33][34]
Supported by:
Russia
Commanders and leaders
United States Donald Trump(since 20 January 2017)
United States Barack Obama(until 20 January 2017)
United States Chuck Hagel (until 2015)
United States Ashton Carter (until 2017)
United States James Mattis (until 2019)
United States Patrick M. Shanahan (since 2019)
United States Gen. Lloyd Austin
United States Gen. James L. Terry
United States Gen. Joseph Votel
United States Gen.Stephen J. Townsend
United States Gen. Paul E. Funk II
DenmarkLars Løkke Rasmussen
Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Netherlands Mark Rutte
United KingdomBoris Johnson(since 24 July 2019)
United KingdomTheresa May(13 July 2016 – 24 July 2019)
United KingdomDavid Cameron(until 13 July 2016)
United Kingdom Stephen Hillier
Australia Tony Abbott
Australia Malcolm Turnbull
Australia Trevor Jones
Australia David Johnston
France Emmanuel Macron (since 14 May 2017)
France François Hollande (until 14 May 2017)
France Jean-Yves Le Drian
France Pierre de Villiers
Germany Angela Merkel
Germany Ursula von der Leyen
Germany Volker Wieker
Jordan King Abdullah II
Jordan Abdullah Ensour
Saudi Arabia King Salman
Saudi Arabia King Abdullah Al Saud (Died 2015)
Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud
Morocco King Mohammed VI
Morocco Abdelilah Benkirane
Morocco Bouchaib Arroub
United Arab Emirates Khalifa Al Nahyan
Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Qatar Tamim Al Thani
Qatar Hamad bin Ali Al Attiyah
Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria Salih Muslim Muhammad
Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani
Canada Stephen Harper (until November 2015)
Canada Justin Trudeau (until February 2016)
Canada Thomas J. Lawson (until February 2016)Canada Yvan Blondin (until February 2016)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Leader)[41]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Alaa Afri 
(Deputy Leader of ISIL)[42][43]
 Abu Mohammad al-Adnani  (Spokesperson)
 Abu Ayman al-Iraqi  (Head of Military Shura)[44][45]
 Abu Suleiman  (Replacement Military Chief)[45]
 Abu Ali al-Anbari  (Deputy, Syria)
 Akram Qirbash 
(Top ISIL judge)[43]
 Abu Omar al-Shishani  (Chief commander in Syria) [46][47][48][49]
 Abu Sayyaf  (Senior ISIL economic manager)[50]
 Abu Khattab al-Kurdi  (Commander of the assault on Kobanî)[51][52]


 Abu Khayr al-Masri  (al-Qaeda deputy leader)[53][54]
 Abu Jaber Shaykh (Emir of Tahrir al-Sham, 2017–present)
 Abu Mohammad al-Julani (Leader of the al-Nusra Front)
 Abu Humam al-Shami (al-Nusra Military Chief)[55]
 Abu Hajer al-Homsi  (top al-Nusra military commander)[56]
 Abu Firas al-Suri  (al-Nusra Spokesman)[57][58]
 Abu Muhammed al Ansari 
(al-Nusra Emir of the Idlib Province)
 Ahmad Salama Mabruk  (al-Nusra senior commander)[59]
 Muhsin al-Fadhli  (Leader of Khorasan)[60][61][62]
 Sanafi al-Nasr [63]
 David Drugeon [61][64]
Flag of Jund al-Aqsa.svg Said Arif  (Jund al-Aqsa Military Chief)[26]
 Abu Omar al-Turkistani  (TIP and al-Nusra military commander)[29]


 Abu Jaber Shaykh (2014–2015)[65][66]

 Abu Yahia al-Hamawi (2015–2017)[67]

Syria Bashar al-Assad (President of Syria)
Strength
Coalition forces: Coalition forces-air

Coalition forces-ground


Local forces

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant:


al-Qaeda:


Ahrar al-Sham:

Syrian Arab Republic:

Casualties and losses
United States United States:
8 servicemen killed (5 non-hostile)[108][109][110]
2 government contractors killed
F-16 crashed[111]
V-22 Osprey crashed[112]
drones lost[113][114]
Jordan Jordan:
serviceman executed[115]
1 F-16 crashed[116]
United Kingdom United Kingdom:
1 serviceman killed (non hostile)[117]
SAS operators wounded[118]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant:
At least 9,145 killed [119]
(per SOHR)


 al-Qaeda:

 Jaysh al-Sunna:
10 killed (per SOHR)[119]


 Ahrar al-Sham:

3 killed (per SOHR)[119][121][122]

 Syrian Arab Republic:
169 soldiers and militiamen killed (per SOHR)[119]
15-100+ Russian mercenaries killed[123][124][125]
4 tanks destroyed[126]
11+ aircraft destroyed[127][128]
SAM batteries destroyed[129]Iran 2 armed drones shot down
4,036 civilians killed by Coalition airstrikes in Syria (Per Syrian Observatory for Human Rights)[119]
[130] 5,900+ civilians killed by ISIL in Syria [131]
Over 420,000 civilians displaced or fled to other countries[132][133]
Number of militants killed possibly higher, due to them covering up their losses.[134]

The American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War refers to the United States-led support of Syrian opposition and the Federation of Northern Syria during the course of the Syrian Civil War and active military involvement led by the United States and its allies — the militaries of the United KingdomFranceJordanTurkeyCanadaAustralia and more — against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Nusra Front since 2014. Since early 2017, the U.S. and other Coalition partners have also targeted the Syrian government and its allies via airstrikes and aircraft shoot-downs.

During the Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, the U.S. initially supplied the rebels of the Free Syrian Army with non-lethal aid—including food rations and pickup trucks—but quickly began providing training, money, and intelligence to selected Syrian rebel commanders. At least two U.S. programs attempted to assist the Syrian rebels. One was a 2014 Pentagon program that planned to train and equip 15,000 rebels to fight ISIL, which was canceled in 2015 after spending $500 million and producing only a few dozen fighters.[135] A simultaneous $1 billion covert program called Timber Sycamore ran by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was more successful, but was decimated by Russian bombing and canceled in mid-2017 by the Trump administration.[135]

The Obama administration began surveillance missions on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant‘s positions in Syria in September 2014.[136] On 22 September 2014, the U.S., BahrainJordanQatarSaudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) began to attack ISIL forces inside Syria,[15][137] as well as the Khorasan group in the Idlib Governorate west of Aleppo and the al-Nusra Front around Raqqa,[21][138] as part of the multinational military intervention against ISIL. As of August 2017, the coalition had flown 168,000 sorties in both Syria and Iraq (mostly against ISIL), with a roughly 45/55 split between the two, respectively.[35] As of late 2015, coalition planes were dropping or launching an average of 67 bombs or missiles a day.[139] The American-led air campaign inflicted heavy losses on ISIL and, alongside special forces operations, artillery strikes, and material and intelligence support to the SDF, catalyzed the loss of the bulk of ISIL’s Syrian territory by March 2019.

The U.S. missile strike on Shayrat Airbase on 7 April 2017 was the first time the U.S. became a deliberate, direct combatant against the Syrian government[140] and marked the start of a series of deliberate direct military actions by U.S. forces against the Syrian government and its allies in May–June 2017 and February 2018.

In mid-January 2018, the Trump administration indicated its intention to maintain an open-ended military presence in Syria to counter Iran’s influence and oust Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.[141] In early September 2018, the U.S. began implementing a new strategy that sought to indefinitely extend the military effort, launching a major diplomatic push to achieve American objectives in Syria.[142] However, on 19 December, President Trump unilaterally ordered the withdrawal of the 2,000–2,500 American ground troops in Syria, which was initially set to take place in a 90-day period and to be completed in 2019. The announcement shifted the scope of American interests in the conflict from what was an increasingly open-ended presence to a sudden draw-down. The fear of a power vacuum from a premature U.S. pullout from Syria drew consternation from both American officials and allies, particularly in regards to the potential of imperiling the Kurds in the face of Turkish opportunism, potentially giving Russia and Iran geopolitical wins, and the unintended consequence of allowing breathing room for extremist and terrorist groups operating in Syria to regroup and reorganize.[143][144][145]

After European allies initially refused to commit additional personnel to replace U.S. troops in Syria,[146] and with proliferating concerns over a potential power vacuum, the U.S. announced on 22 February 2019 that instead of a total withdrawal, a contingency force of around 400 American troops would remain garrisoned in Syria indefinitely post-withdrawal, marking a return to a policy of open-ended American military presence in the country.[147] By June 2019, the U.S., led by special anti-ISIL envoy James Jeffrey, had renewed its demands for European allies to compensate for the reduced American ground presence in a joint manner.[148]

The intervention was conducted with strong domestic support; according to Gallup polling in 2014, 61% of Americans supported intervention against ISIL in both Iraq and Syria, while 30% were opposed, and 9% undecided.[149] A larger CCGA poll taken in 2016 showed that 72% of Americans supported “conducting airstrikes against violent Islamic extremist groups in Syria”, while 58% also supported “sending special operations forces into Syria to fight violent Islamic extremist groups.” Additionally, a slim majority (52%) supported “enforcing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria, including bombing Syrian air defenses.” However, only 26% supported “sending arms and other supplies to anti-government rebel groups in Syria.”[150]

Background

United States diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks have been seen as showing that regime change in Syria may have been a covert foreign policy goal of the U.S. government in the years leading up to the civil war, even during the period when President Barack Obama was publicly engaging with Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad. A 2006 memorandum by U.S. diplomat William Roebuck of the embassy in Damascus stated:

We believe Bashar’s weaknesses are in how he chooses to react to looming issues, both perceived and real, such as…the potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists. This cable summarizes our assessment of these vulnerabilities and suggests that there may be actions, statements and signals that the USG can send that will improve the likelihood of such opportunities arising. These proposals will need to be fleshed out and converted into real actions and we need to be ready to move quickly to take advantage of such opportunities. Many of our suggestions underline using Public Diplomacy and more indirect means to send messages that influence the inner circle.

According to Seymour Hersh and activist Robert Naiman, Roebuck, who went on to be charge d’affairs of the Libyan embassy under Obama, also considered the advantages of promoting religious sectarianism in Syria.[151][152]

Following the start of the Arab Spring in 2011, protests in Syria against the Assad administration were violently suppressed and a civil war began.[153] By 2012 there were several armed opposition groups operating in the country, including the Free Syrian Army, formed in July 2011 by officers who defected from the Syrian Armed Forces. In 2012, the al-Nusra Front was established by the Islamic State of Iraq as the official branch of al-Qaeda in Syria. The al-Nusra Front was eclipsed by its own creator, and al-Qaeda severed its ties to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in February 2014, after an eight-month power struggle.[154]

Military situation in the Syrian Civil War as of April 9, 2019.

 Controlled by Syrian Arab Republic
 Controlled by North Syria Federation (SDF)
 Controlled by the Syrian opposition and Ahrar al-Sham
 Controlled by Turkey and TFSA
 Controlled by the Islamic State (ISIL)
 Controlled by Tahrir al-Sham (al-Nusra)

(For a more detailed, up-to-date, interactive map, see Template:Syrian Civil War detailed map.)

Pre-coalition arming and training of the Syrian opposition

At the direction of U.S. President Barack Obama, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was put in charge the operations worth about $1 billion annually to arm anti-government forces in Syria,[155][156][157][158] an operation which formally began in 2013, more than two years after the start of the civil war in 2011. Prior to 2013, the CIA only supplied certain rebel groups of the Free Syrian Army with non-lethal aid, but later began providing training, funding, and intelligence to selected rebel commanders.[159][160][161] Although a former intelligence adviser who spoke to journalist Seymour Hersh claimed the CIA had been facilitating the flow of arms from Libya to Syria in collaboration with “the UK [United Kingdom], Saudi Arabia and Qatar” since 2012 or 2011,[162] the first confirmed CIA weapons arrived in Spring 2014: “There were just a handful, delivered to only one rebel group carefully vetted by the CIA”. The group, Harakat Hazm, or the Steadfast Movement, showed off the new weapons system by posting the first successful strike on YouTube in April.[163] Another of the groups being vetted was the Islamist Army of Mujahedeen, formed in January 2014 specifically to combat ISIL.[163][164] However, there were indications that the Army of Mujahedeen was still being vetted in September 2014.[165]

In addition to the covert CIA program,[166] on 17 September 2014 the U.S. House of Representatives voted to authorize the executive branch to overtly train and equip Syrian rebels against ISIL forces, at a cost of $500 million.[167][168][169]

July 2014 rescue mission

Following the abduction of a number of foreigners in Syria, on 4 July 2014, the U.S. carried out an operation to rescue foreign hostages being held by ISIL. U.S. airstrikes were conducted against an ISIL military base known as the “Osama bin Laden Camp” while at the same time, two dozen US special forces soldiers parachuted from helicopters near an ISIL-held building, thought to be for high-value prisoners. No prisoners were found in the building and the soldiers were quickly engaged by ISIL forces dispatched from Raqqa, which started a three-hour firefight.[170] U.S. forces concluded that the hostages were no longer at the site and abandoned the rescue attempt. At least five ISIL fighters were killed and one U.S. soldier was wounded. Jordanian forces were also reportedly involved in the operation, with one Jordanian soldier reportedly wounded, but Jordanian involvement was not confirmed. Later on, it was reported that the hostages had been moved 24 hours before the attempted rescue.[170] Following the mission, it was still unclear whether the operation failed due to bad intelligence or whether ISIL forces were alerted in advance of the mission.[171]

In the aftermath of the rescue mission, and purportedly as a response to airstrikes in Iraq, ISIL beheaded three hostages over a one-month period: Americans James Foley[170] and Steven Sotloff on 19 August and 2 September respectively,[172] and Briton David Haines on 13 September.[173]

Surveillance flights over Syria

On 26 August 2014, the U.S. began sending surveillance flights, including drones, over Syria to gather intelligence on ISIL targets. The flights began gathering intelligence that would aid future airstrikes even though airstrikes were not yet authorized at that point.[174] No approval was sought from the Assad government for flights entering Syrian airspace.[175]

U.S.-led coalition against ISIL

The United States had since 2014 led efforts to establish a global coalition to counter ISIL.[176]

On 5 September, 15 September,[177] and 3 December 2014, various sets of countries came together to discuss concerted action against ISIL. Present at all three meetings were the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Turkey and Denmark.

The coalition of 5 September (10 countries) decided to support anti-ISIL forces in Iraq and Syria.[178] On 10 September 2014, U.S. president Barack Obama announced a ″comprehensive″ strategy to counter ISIL that ″in concert with coalition partners <…> will defeat ISIL and deny them safe haven″.[179]

The coalition of 3 December 2014 (sixty countries) that styled itself as the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)[180] agreed on a many-sided strategy against ISIL, including cutting off ISIL’s financing and funding and exposing ISIL’s true nature.[180] As of March 2015, the U.S.-led coalition comprised over sixty countries, that contributed in various ways to the effort.[176]

Support for Kurdish-led ground forces

As the Siege of Kobanî continued there were growing calls to also arm the YPG, also known as the People’s Protection Units, a Kurdish fighting force in Syria heavily involved in the defense of Kobanî.[181] On 20 October 2014, the Turkish foreign ministerMevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced that the Turkish government would be allowing Peshmerga from the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government to cross their border into Kobanî to support Kurdish fighters.[182] The change in policy came after the Turkish government had refused to allow Kurdish fighters and supplies to pass through the border to YPG units in Kobanî, as it viewed the YPG as an offshoot of the PKK.[183] On 28 October, Peshmerga from the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government departed Erbil to travel to Turkey and eventually to Kobanî.[184] A total of 152 soldiers were deployed starting with forty vehicles carrying weapons, artillery, and machine guns, along with 80 Peshmerga forces, who crossed the border into Turkey by land with the heavy weapons and then drove to the border near Kobanî.[184] The other 72 soldiers in the contingent flew to Turkey and rejoined the rest of the contingent on 29 October.[184] By the start of November, 152 Kurdish Peshmerga from Iraq and 50 Free Syrian Army fighters had crossed the border into Kobanî with heavy weapons, small arms, and ammunition.[13][84]

On 20 October 2014, the United States began airdropping supplies to Syrian Kurdish forces, including the YPG, that were besieging ISIL-controlled Kobanî.[185] Prior to 20 October, the United States and its anti-ISIL coalition partners in Syria had not provided any supplies to Kurdish forces in their fight against the jihadist group.[185] Much of the reason for the U.S. airdropping supplies was due to the Turkish government’s refusal to allow supplies to pass through their border into Kobanî. The U.S. specifically airdropped weapons, ammunition, and medical supplies supplied by Iraqi Kurdistan intended to supply the Kurdish forces in Syria.[185] On 21 October, a video was released by ISIL showing what it claimed was a bundle of airdropped small arms, ammunition, and other supplies from the United States. The Pentagon said it was analyzing the video and could not at the time confirm whether the video was authentic but that the materials were similar; the video would subsequently be analyzed by the Department of Defense to verify its authenticity.[186] On 22 October, the Pentagon confirmed that one of its airdrops had been intercepted by ISIL elements but downplayed the incident, saying that it most likely would not give ISIL any real advantage in their overall operations.[187]

Coalition arming and training of the Syrian opposition

By January 2015, the United States was set to send 400 troops and hundreds of support staff to countries neighboring Syria in order to train 5,000 opposition soldiers a year for the next three years.[188] The countries taking part in the train-and-equip program were to include Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.[189] The groups that were expected to be armed and trained by the U.S. government included fighters from the Free Syrian Army.[190] In October 2014, the Turkish government agreed to help train and equip some moderate Syrian rebels in Turkey.[191] The Pentagon confirmed that it had selected 1,200 Syrian opposition members to begin training in March 2015, with 3,000 to complete training by the end of 2015.[189]

The successful experience in Kobanî had informed U.S. policy in regard to arming Syrian opposition groups other than the Kurdish YPG, with plans to give other groups technicals equipped with radio and GPS equipment to call in airstrikes.[166] John R. Allen, President Obama’s envoy to the international coalition against ISIL, stated “It is clearly part of our plan, that not only we will train them, and we will equip them with the latest weapons systems, but we will also protect them when the time comes”.[192] In March 2015, the United Kingdom announced that it was sending around 75 military instructors to train Syrian opposition forces.[193][194] The train-and-equip program started on 9 May 2015.[195] On 25 May, Turkey and the U.S. agreed “in principle” on the necessity to support these forces with air support.[196]

However, only about 200 rebel fighters actually began training, the majority of whom left after being required to agree to fight only against ISIL and not the Assad government.[197] By mid-2015, only a group of 54 such fighters (Division 30) had been deployed – which was quickly routed in an ambush by al-Nusra[198] – and a further 100 had been thus far finished training in Jordan.[199] In September 2015, it was reported that a further 100-120 were being trained in a second wave,[200] with 75 more Division 30 fighters reported to have re-entered Syria at the end of the month; they were immediately attacked by al-Nusra.[201]

Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that in December 2015 the U.S. shipped 994 tonnes of weapons and ammunition (including packaging and container weight), generally of Soviet-type equipment from Eastern Europe, to Syrian rebel groups under the ongoing CIA Timber Sycamore operation. A detailed list of weapon types and shipment weights had been obtained from the U.S. government’s Federal Business Opportunities website.[202][203] As of July 2016, extensive arms shipments were continuing.[204][205][206]

It was reported in July 2017 that the Donald Trump administration decided to “phase-out” the CIA program to equip and train anti-government rebel groups.[207][208][209]

Multinational air war

Preparations for American airstrikes

In his address to the nation on 10 September 2014, U.S. President Obama announced his intention to bomb ISIL targets in Syria and called on Congress to authorize a program to train and arm rebels who were fighting ISIL and the Syrian forces of Bashar al-Assad.[210] For the first time, he authorized direct attacks against the militant group in Syria. In his address, he said the United States were going on offensive, launching “a steady, relentless effort to take out” the group “wherever they exist.” Obama also announced creating of a broader coalition against ISIL.[211]

Commenting on Obama’s address, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich [ru] opposed the U.S. intervention against ISIL in Syria “without the consent of the legitimate government” and said that “this step, in the absence of a UN Security Council decision, would be an act of aggression, a gross violation of international law”. Ali Haidar, Syrian minister of national reconciliation, said that “any action of any kind without the consent of the Syrian government would be an attack on Syria”.[212]

On 17 September, the U.S. House of Representatives approved Obama’s plan to train and arm the Syrian rebels in their fight against ISIL. In a statement following the House vote, Obama said that the United States would not send military troops to Syria.[213] The Senate gave final congressional approval to Obama’s proposal the next day.[214]

The U.S. did not request permission from the Syrian government, nor did it coordinate its actions with the Syrian government, provide direct notification to the Syrian military or give indication of timing on specific targets, but it did notify the Syrian U.N. representative, which the Syrian government confirmed.[215]

Before the airstrikes began, the United States also informed Iran, the Assad government’s largest regional ally, of their intention to launch airstrikes. It did not share specific timing or targets of strikes with the Iranian government but reportedly assured it that the US would not strike any Syrian government targets.[216]

Contributing countries

Timeline

Map of the first round of U.S. and coalition strikes in Syria

2014

September 2014 — Airstrikes begin

Tomahawk cruise missile launching from USS Arleigh Burke to strike ISIL targets in Syria on 23 September

On 22 September, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby confirmed that the United States and other partner nations had undertaken strikes in Syria using fighters, bombers, and Tomahawk missiles in strikes authorized by President Barack Obama.[219] BahrainJordanQatarSaudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were identified as countries conducting or supporting airstrikes the first night.[10] The initial strikes were coordinated by United States Central Command[12] and targeted about 20 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant targets, including headquarters buildings.[220] Sources in Syria claimed that among the targets was also Brigade 93, a Syrian army base that the militants had recently captured and targets in the towns of Tabqa and Tel Abyad in Raqqa Province.[221]

The U.S. also targeted the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front and the Khorasan Group[222] in the Aleppo and Idlib Governorates of Syria.[223]

F-22 Raptor stealth fighters were reported to be among the U.S. aircraft striking targets in Syria on the first night of the campaign, carrying out their first combat missions ever since entering service in 2005.[70]

At least 70 ISIL fighters, 50 fighters affiliated with al-Qaeda, and eight civilians were killed overnight by the airstrikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights while eight strikes were launched against the Khorasan group.[224]

Syrian military radar was “passive” during the first air strikes, with no attempt to counter US aircraft.[225] During the first night of airstrikes, the United States’ force deployed with HARM missiles as a precaution, as it was uncertain how Syria’s air-defense network would react.[226]

File:Sept 23 ISIL compound strike.WebM

A U.S. Air Force fighter jet drops ordnance on an ISIL compound in Raqqa, Syria on 23 September 2014.

On 24 September, the United States and coalition partners conducted a second round of airstrikes on ISIL facilities in Syria. The airstrikes were targeting oil production facilities controlled by ISIL who had been using the oil in order to fund their activities. Some targets were apparently also mobile production facilities which were most likely not refineries.[227]

In a third round of airstrikes on ISIL targets on 25 September, Arab partners led the U.S. in strikes against militant-held oil facilities in northeastern Syria. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates dropped 80 percent of the bomb tonnage in the third round of strikes, compared to other strikes in which the United States lead Arab partners.[228]

On 26 September, the U.S. carried out a fourth round of airstrikes on ISIL targets in Eastern Syria. The strikes were targeting ISIL heavy equipment and destroyed four of their tanks in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate.[229]

In a fifth round of airstrikes in Syria on 27 September, the U.S. led strikes along with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE against ISIL forces in the Kobanî Canton of Syrian Kurdistan. The strikes destroyed two armored vehicles and an unknown number of fighters in an area that had been under siege by ISIL militants. The siege by Islamic State fighters had recently forced over 100,000 Syrian Kurds to flee across the border to Turkey.[230]

On 28 and 29 September, the U.S. carried out two rounds of strikes against ISIL positions across Syria in 4 provinces. Among the facilities targeted was the entrance to the largest gas plant in Syria, in Deir ez-Zor Governorate, and ISIL training camps and vehicles near an ISIL-controlled grain silo in Manbij.[231]

October 2014

F/A-18 Hornets takes off from USS George H.W. Bush to strike ISIL targets in Syria

In an eighth round of airstrikes in Syria on 1 October, the U.S. and coalition partners struck ISIL targets in Northern Syria. The daytime strikes targeted ISIL forces laying siege to Kobanî, a primarily Kurdish city in Syrian Kurdistan, in support of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Free Syrian Army, who were defending the city.[232]

On 2 October, the U.S. led a ninth round of strikes, along with the UAE, against ISIL forces across Syria. The strikes destroyed an ISIL checkpoint near Kobanî, damaged a tank north of Sinjar Mountain, destroyed a tank west of Raqqa, and destroyed several ISIL facilities east of Aleppo.[233]

In a 10th round of airstrikes in Syria on 3 October, the U.S., assisted by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, struck ISIL forces in Northern and Eastern Syria. The strikes destroyed an ISIL garrison south of Al-Hasakah, destroyed two tanks southeast of Deir ez-Zor, destroyed two modular oil refineries and a training camp south of Raqqa, and struck an ISIL building northeast of Aleppo.[234]

On 4 October, the U.S. led an 11th round of airstrikes, along with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, against ISIL forces across Syria. The U.S. and partner nations carried out nine strikes, destroying an ISIL infantry unit, armored personnel carrier, and a vehicle south of Kobanî. They also destroyed a tank and a vehicle southeast of Deir ez-Zor, damaged the Tabqa airfield and destroyed an artillery piece near Raqqa, as well as an ISIL depot and logistics complex south of Al-Hasakah.[235]

In a 12th round of airstrikes in Syria on 5 October, the U.S. carried out three airstrikes against ISIL forces in Central and Eastern Syria. The strikes destroyed an ISIL bulldozer, two ISIL tanks and another vehicle northwest of Mayadin, and destroyed six firing positions and a large ISIL unit northwest of Raqqa.[236]

On 6 October, the U.S. carried out a 13th round of airstrikes in Syria against ISIL forces across Syria. The strikes destroyed an ISIL tank near Tabqa airfield west of Raqqa, destroyed two fighting positions south of Kobanî, and destroyed a tank southeast of Deir ez-Zor.[237]

In a 14th round of airstrikes in Syria on 7 October, the U.S., assisted by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, carried out nine strikes damaging multiple ISIL-controlled buildings west of Al-Hasakah, damaging a staging area and IED production facility northeast of Deir ez-Zor, destroying three armed vehicles, damaging one armed vehicle, destroying a vehicle carrying anti-aircraft artillery, destroying an ISIL tank, and an ISIL unit in and around Kobanî, and killing a small group of fighters southwest of Rabiyah.[238]

On 8 October, the U.S. led a 15th round of nine airstrikes along with the UAE, destroying an armored personnel carrier, four armed vehicles, an artillery piece, and damaged another armed vehicle in and around Kobanî, striking an ISIL training camp and fighters northwest of Raqqa, and destroying a tank northwest of Deir ez-Zor.[239]

In a 16th round of airstrikes in Syria on 9 October, the U.S. carried out nine airstrikes in the areas in and around the besieged border town of Kobanî. The U.S. carried out six airstrikes south of Kobanî that destroyed two ISIL-held buildings, one tank and one heavy machine gun along, a fighting position along with one large and two small ISIL units. North of Kobanî, the U.S. struck two small ISIL units and destroyed two ISIL-held buildings.[240]

A before and after picture of an ISIL command and control center, after an F-22 airstrike on 23 September

On 10 October, the U.S. led a 17th round of airstrikes along with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, carrying out nine strikes that destroyed two ISIL training facilities, three vehicles, damaging a tank and striking two ISIL units in and around Kobanî. The strikes also destroyed an armored vehicle staging facility east of Deir ez-Zor and struck a small ISIL unit northeast of Al-Hasakah.[241]

In an 18th round of airstrikes in Syria on 11 October, the U.S. carried out six airstrikes in and around Kobanî. The U.S. carried out four strikes north of Kobanî striking a fighting position, damaging a command and control facility, destroying a staging building, and striking two small ISIL units. South of Kobanî, two airstrikes destroyed three trucks.[242]

On 12 October, the U.S. led a 19th round of airstrikes along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, carrying out four strikes — three in Kobanî, destroying a fighting position and a staging area, and one strike northwest of Raqqa, destroying an armored vehicle compound.[243] Also on 12 October, the U.S. announced that the Turkish government had approved the use of Turkish military bases by Coalition forces fighting ISIL in Syria and Iraq. These installations included key bases only 160 km (100 mi) from the Syrian border and important U.S. military bases in Turkey such as the Incirlik Air Base.[244][245] Despite the announcement of Turkish government approval, on 13 October, Turkish officials publicly denied that any agreement had been made over Coalition use of Turkish airbases, including Incirlik.[246]

In a 20th round of airstrikes in Syria on 13 October, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia carried out eight airstrikes against ISIL forces. Seven of the strikes were in and around Kobanî, striking a large ISIL unit, two small units; damaging one staging location and destroying another, destroying a heavy-machine-gun firing position, destroying three buildings, and damaging two others. One other strike northwest of Raqqa struck an ISIL garrison.[247]

On 14 October, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia carried out the 21st round and the largest set of strikes against ISIL in Syria since the beginning of the intervention, with 21 strikes against targets in and around Kobanî, and an additional strike near Deir ez-Zor. According to the Department of Defense, the strikes were designed to interdict ISIL reinforcements and resupply zones and prevent ISIL from massing combat power on the Kurdish-held portions of Kobanî. The strikes destroyed two staging locations and damaged another, destroyed one ISIL building and damaged two others, damaged three ISIL compounds, destroyed one truck, one armed vehicle, and one other vehicle near Kobanî in support of Kurdish forces resisting the |siege of the town. In addition to those targets, the airstrikes struck seven staging areas, two mortar positions, three ISIL occupied buildings, and an artillery storage facility. An additional strike near Deir ez-Zor struck a modular oil refinery.[248]

F/A-18 Super Hornet taking off from USS Carl Vinson before carrying out strikes on ISIL targets in Syria

In a 22nd round of airstrikes on 15 October, the U.S. carried out 18 strikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî. The strikes destroyed multiple fighting positions and also successfully struck sixteen ISIL-occupied buildings.[249]

On 16 October, the U.S. carried out a 23rd round of airstrikes with 14 airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî striking 19 ISIL-controlled buildings, two command posts, three fighting positions, three sniper positions, one staging location, and one heavy machine gun position.[250]

In a 24th round of airstrikes on 17 October, the U.S. carried out seven airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî and in north-eastern Syria. Six airstrikes took place near Kobanî, striking three ISIL-controlled buildings; they also destroyed two fighting positions, suppressed three fighting positions, and destroyed two vehicles. One other airstrike near Al-Shaddadi struck ISIL-controlled oil collection equipment, including several petroleum, oil, and lubricants tanks, and a pump station.[251]

On 20 October, the U.S. carried out a 25th round of airstrikes, with six airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî. The strikes destroyed ISIL fighting positions, ISIL mortar positions, a vehicle, and one stray equipment supply bundle from a U.S. airdrop of Kurdish supplies in order to prevent the supplies from being captured.[252]

In a 26th round of airstrikes on 21 October, the U.S. carried out four airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî. The strikes destroyed several ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL-controlled building, and a large ISIL unit.[253] The British Royal Air Force began operating over Syria in a surveillance role on the same date, making the UK the first Western country other than the U.S. to operate in both Iraq and Syria simultaneously.[81]

On 22 October, the U.S. carried out a 27th round of airstrikes with six airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî. The strikes destroyed several ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL-controlled building and an ISIL logistical center.[254]

In a 28th round of airstrikes on 23 October, the U.S. carried out six airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Deir ez-Zor. Four strikes destroyed several ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, and an ISIL command and control center near Kobanî. Two strikes east of Deir ez-Zor destroyed several ISIL oil storage tanks.[255]

On 24 October, the U.S. carried out a 29th round of airstrikes with six airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî. The strikes destroyed an ISIL vehicle and struck three ISIL units.[256]

In a 30th round of airstrikes on 25 October, the U.S. carried out one strike near Kobanî, destroying an ISIL artillery piece.[257]

On 26 October, the U.S. carried out its 31st round of airstrikes with five airstrikes against ISIL targets near Kobanî, destroying seven ISIL vehicles and an ISIL-controlled building.[258]

An F-22 Raptor being refueled prior to an airstrike on ISIL targets in Syria

In a 32nd round of airstrikes on 27 October, the U.S. carried out four strikes near Kobanî, destroying five ISIL vehicles and an ISIL-occupied building.[259]

On 28 October, the U.S. carried out its 33rd round of airstrikes, with four airstrikes conducted against ISIL targets near Kobanî, destroying four ISIL fighting positions and a small ISIL unit.[260]

In a 34th round of airstrikes on 29 October, the U.S. carried out eight airstrikes in and around Kobanî. The strikes destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, a small ISIL unit, six ISIL vehicles, an ISIL-controlled building, and an ISIL command and control node.[261]

On 30 October, the U.S. carried out a 35th round of airstrikes, with 12 airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî, and against targets near Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa. 10 strikes near Kobanî struck two small ISIL units, destroyed seven ISIL fighting positions, and five ISIL-controlled buildings. One strike near Deir ez-Zor damaged an ISIL headquarters building while another strike near Raqqa damaged an ISIL security building.[262]

In a 36th round of airstrikes on 31 October, the U.S. carried out four airstrikes in and around Kobanî, damaging four ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL controlled building.[263]

Naming of Operation Inherent Resolve[edit]

Unlike previous U.S. combat operations, no name had been given to the American intervention in Syria and Iraq until it was announced in mid-October that the operational name would be Inherent Resolve.[264][265] The decision to keep the conflict nameless until then drew considerable media criticism.[266][267]

November 2014[edit]

On 1 November, the U.S. carried out a 37th round of airstrikes with five airstrikes against ISIL targets in and around Kobanî. The strikes suppressed or destroyed nine ISIL fighting positions, and struck one ISIL-controlled building.[268]

In a 38th round of airstrikes on 2 November, the U.S. carried out seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Deir ez-Zor. Five airstrikes in and around Kobanî struck five small ISIL units and destroyed three ISIL vehicles. Two airstrikes southeast of Deir ez-Zor destroyed an ISIL tank and two vehicle shelters.[268]

On 3 November, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out a 39th round of airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Deir ez-Zor. Four airstrikes in and around Kobanî struck an ISIL fighting position, a small ISIL unit, and destroyed two ISIL-controlled buildings. One airstrike near Deir ez-Zor damaged an ISIL-controlled building.[268]

In a 40th round of airstrikes on 4 and 5 November, the U.S. carried out six airstrikes in and around Kobanî and north of Sinjar just across the Iraq-Syria border. Three airstrikes in and around Kobanî struck a small ISIL unit, two ISIL fighting positions, and an ISIL dump truck that was used in the construction of fighting positions. One airstrike north of Sinjar destroyed an ISIL fighting position, used to launch mortar attacks, and struck a small ISIL unit manning the position. Two additional strikes north of Sinjar struck a small ISIL unit and destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle.[269]

USS Carl Vinson and support ships deployed for combat operations in Syria and Iraq.

On 6 and 7 November, the U.S. carried out a 41st round of airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Tell Abyad. Seven strikes in and around Kobanî struck three small ISIL units, seven ISIL fighting positions, and destroyed an ISIL artillery piece. One airstrike near Tell Abyad destroyed an ISIL weapons stockpile.[270]

In a 42nd round of airstrikes between 8 and 10 November, the U.S. carried out 23 airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Deir ez-Zor. 13 airstrikes conducted in and around Kobanî struck an ISIL vehicle and five small ISIL units, destroyed an ISIL-occupied building used as an ammunition stockpile, an ISIL command and control building, and seven ISIL fighting positions, as well as damaging two ISIL fighting positions. In addition, eight airstrikes southeast of Deir ez-Zor damaged several structures of an ISIL oil collection facility, which was used to trans-load oil for the black market, while two airstrikes east of Deir ez-Zor damaged an ISIL oil collection point.[271]

Between 11 and 12 November, the U.S. carried out a 43rd round of airstrikes with 16 airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Deir ez-Zor, and near Al-Hasakah. 10 airstrikes conducted in and around Kobanî struck eight small ISIL units, damaged three ISIL fighting positions, and destroyed an ISIL logistics facility. Four airstrikes near Deir ez-Zor damaged an ISIL crude oil collection facility, struck a small ISIL unit, and damaged an ISIL vehicle. Two airstrikes near Al-Hasakah damaged a crude oil collection point.[272]

In a 44th round of airstrikes between 13 and 14 November, the U.S. carried out 20 airstrikes in and around Kobanî, east of Deir ez-Zor, west of Aleppo, and east of Raqqa. 17 airstrikes conducted in and around Kobanî struck ten ISIL units, destroyed 10 fighting positions, an ISIL controlled building, two ISIL vehicles, and an ISIL motorcycle. One airstrike east of Raqqa destroyed an ISIL training camp and another airstrike east of Deir ez-Zor destroyed an ISIL oil collection point. One other airstrike west of Aleppo struck militants associated with the Khorasan group.[273]

Between 15 and 17 November, the U.S. carried out a 45th round of airstrikes with 11 airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Deir ez-Zor. Nine airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed seven ISIL fighting positions, suppressed an ISIL fighting position, destroyed four ISIL staging areas, and struck one tactical ISIL unit. Two airstrikes near Deir ez-Zor struck an ISIL crude oil collection facility and destroyed one ISIL tank.[268]

In a 46th round of airstrikes between 18 and 19 November, the U.S. carried out seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî, southeast of Al-Hasakah, and near Hazm. Five airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL staging area and three ISIL controlled buildings, suppressed two ISIL fighting positions, struck two tactical ISIL units, and a large ISIL unit. One airstrike southeast of Al-Hasakah damaged a crude oil collection point operated by ISIL while another airstrike near Hazm struck and destroyed a storage facility associated with the Khorasan Group.[274]

Between 20 and 21 November, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out a 47th round of airstrikes with seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Raqqa. Six airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed four ISIL staging areas, two ISIL-controlled buildings, two ISIL tactical units, and suppressed an ISIL fighting position. One airstrike near Raqqa damaged an ISIL barracks building.[268]

In a 48th round of airstrikes between 22 and 24 November, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out nine airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Raqqa. Seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed three ISIL fighting positions along with two ISIL staging areas, damaged an ISIL staging area, and suppressed four ISIL fighting positions. Two strikes near Raqqa struck an ISIL headquarters building.[275]

Between 25 and 26 November, the U.S. carried out a 49th round of airstrikes with 10 airstrikes in and around Kobanî striking an ISIL fighting position, a large ISIL unit, two tactical ISIL units, and destroying four ISIL staging areas and six ISIL fighting positions.[276]

In a 50th round of airstrikes between 27 and 28 November, the U.S. carried out two airstrikes near Kobanî and Aleppo. One airstrike near Kobanî struck an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL staging area while one airstrike near Aleppo struck a tactical ISIL unit.[268]

A coalition airstrike on ISIL positions in Kobanî.

Between 29 November and 1 December, the U.S. carried out a 51st round of airstrikes with 27 airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Raqqa, and near Aleppo. 17 airstrikes near Kobanî destroyed two ISIL-occupied buildings, three ISIL tanks, three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL armored personnel carrier, three ISIL vehicles and two ISIL staging areas. It also struck seven tactical ISIL units, targeted six ISIL fighting positions and damaged an ISIL-controlled building. Nine airstrikes near Raqqa struck an ISIL electronic warfare garrison, an ISIL military garrison, an ISIL headquarters building, an ISIL jamming system, an ISIL tank and 14 ISIL vehicles while one airstrike near Aleppo struck a target associated with the Khorasan Group.[277]

December 2014

An F-16 Fighting Falcon being refueled after an airstrike on ISIL targets in Syria

In a 52nd round of airstrikes between 1 and 3 December, the U.S. carried out 14 airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroying an ISIL vehicle, 17 ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL staging area, and suppressed eight other fighting positions and stuck a large ISIL unit.[278]

Between 4 and 8 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out a 53rd round of airstrikes with 15 airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Raqqa. 15 airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed four ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL-occupied buildings, two ISIL staging areas, two ISIL tanks, an ISIL motorcycle, a mortar, and struck eight tactical ISIL units along with two ISIL fighting positions. One airstrike near Raqqa struck an ISIL electronic warfare garrison.[279]

In a 54th round of airstrikes between 9 and 10 December, the U.S. carried out seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî, destroying five ISIL fighting positions, striking three ISIL fighting positions, and striking a large ISIL unit.[280]

Between 11 and 12 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out a 55th round of airstrikes with seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Aleppo, and near Al-Qa’im, Iraq. Five airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed five ISIL fighting positions and struck one ISIL fighting position. One airstrike near Aleppo struck five ISIL-occupied buildings while another airstrike near Al-Qa’im on the Syrian border destroyed two ISIL fortifications.[281]

In a 56th round of airstrikes between 13 and 15 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out nine airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Abu Kamal. Eight airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed nine ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL-controlled buildings, and two ISIL staging positions as well as striking one ISIL fighting position. One airstrike near Abu Kamal destroyed an ISIL vehicle.[282]

Between 16 and 17 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out a 57th round of airstrikes with six airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Abu Kamal. Five airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed an ISIL controlled building, one ISIL staging area, one ISIL bunker, and an ISIL mortar, and struck two ISIL tactical units, two additional buildings, and two ISIL fighting positions. One airstrike near Abu Kamal destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle.[283]

In a 58th round of airstrikes on 18 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out six airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroying seven ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL building, and struck a tactical unit.[284]

A member of the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army prepares to launch a BGM-71 TOW at a Syrian Army position in southern Syria, December 2014

On 19 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out a 59th round of airstrikes with four strikes in and around Kobanî and near Raqqa. Three airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed two ISIL controlled buildings and an ISIL staging area as well as striking two ISIL tactical units. One airstrike near Raqqa damaged an ISIL training compound.[285]

In a 60th round of airstrikes on 20 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out five airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroying eight ISIL fighting positions.[268] On 21 December, the Coalition carried out a 61st round of airstrikes with three strikes in and around Kobanî destroying an ISIL staging position and two ISIL fighting positions as well as striking two ISIL fighting positions.[268]

In a 62nd round of airstrikes on 22 December, the Coalition carried out 12 airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Aleppo, near Al-Hasakah, and near Raqqa. Six airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed six ISIL fighting positions and struck four ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL tactical unit. Three airstrikes near Aleppo destroyed artillery equipment and struck 10 ISIL buildings; two airstrikes near Al-Hasakah destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle, two ISIL trucks, a building, and two ISIL storage containers, and one airstrike near Raqqa destroyed an ISIL checkpoint complex.[286]

On 23 December, the Coalition carried out a 63rd round of airstrikes with seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî. Six airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed seven ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL building and struck several ISIL fighting positions and one airstrike near Barghooth struck ISIL oil collection equipment.[287]

In a 64th round of airstrikes on 24 December, the Coalition carried out ten airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Deir ez-Zor, and near Raqqa. Eight airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL building, an ISIL staging position, and struck three ISIL tactical units, an ISIL tactical vehicle and an ISIL fighting position. One airstrike near Deir ez-Zor struck a crude oil collection point and another airstrike near Raqqa struck an ISIL weapons stockpile.[268]

On 25 December, the Coalition carried out a 65th round of airstrikes with 15 airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Al-Hasakah, and near Raqqa. 13 airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed three ISIL buildings, one vehicle, 17 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL staging positions as well as striking two ISIL fighting positions, three large ISIL units and four ISIL tactical units. One airstrike near Al-Hasakah struck an ISIL drilling tower and destroyed two support vehicles and another airstrike near Raqqa struck an ISIL assembly area.[268]

In a 66th round of airstrikes on 26 December, the Coalition carried out four airstrikes in and around Kobanî, destroying three ISIL buildings and two ISIL vehicles.[268] On 29 December, the Coalition carried out a 67th round of airstrikes with 12 airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Deir ez-Zor, and near Raqqa. 10 airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed 11 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL buildings, and an ISIL storage container, and struck an ISIL tactical unit. One airstrike near Deir ez-Zor struck several ISIL-controlled buildings while another airstrike near Raqqa also struck several ISIL-controlled buildings.[288]

In a 68th round of airstrikes on 30 December, the Coalition carried out seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Deir ez-Zor. Six airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed three ISIL buildings, damaged one ISIL building, and struck an ISIL tactical unit while one airstrike near Deir ez-Zor destroyed an ISIL shipping container.[289]

On 31 December, the U.S. and coalition partners carried out a 69th round of airstrikes with seven airstrikes in and around Kobanî and near Al-Hasakah. Five airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed five ISIL buildings and six ISIL fighting positions while two airstrikes near Al-Hasakah destroyed four oil derricks controlled by ISIL.[290]

2015

January 2015

King Salman of Saudi Arabia with President Obama in January 2015. Saudi Arabia was involved in the CIA-led Timber Sycamore covert operation to train and arm Syrian rebels.[291]

In a 70th round of airstrikes on 1 January, the Coalition carried out 17 airstrikes in and around Kobanî, near Deir ez-Zor, and near Raqqa. 13 airstrikes in and around Kobanî destroyed 12 ISIL controlled buildings, four ISIL fighting positions, one ISIL vehicle as well as striking two ISIL tactical units and two large ISIL units. Two airstrikes near Raqqa destroyed five ISIL checkpoints and struck an ISIL staging area, while two airstrikes near Deir ez-Zor destroyed an ISIL fighting position and struck an ISIL shipping container.[268]

February 2015 – Al-Hasakah offensive

On 5 February 2015, Jordan elevated its role in the U.S.-led coalition in Syria, launching one of the largest airstrike campaigns since early January 2015, targeting ISIL militants near Raqqa, the then-de facto ISIL capital, inflicting an unknown number of casualties and damaging ISIL facilities. This was done in retaliation against ISIL’s brutal murder of Muath al-Kasasbeh.[292][293]

On 6 February, a continued round of Coalition airstrikes at Raqqa killed over 30 ISIL militants.[294]

On 21 February, Syrian Kurds launched an offensive to retake ISIL-held territories in the Al-Hasakah Governorate, specifically in the Tell Hamis area, with support from U.S. airstrikes. At least 20 villages were liberated, and 12 militants were killed in the clashes.[295] In response, on 23 February, ISIL abducted 150 Assyrian Christians from villages near Tell Tamer in northeastern Syria, after launching a large offensive in the region.[296][297]

As a result of ISIL’s massive offensive in the west Al-Hasakah Governorate, the U.S.-led Coalition increased the number of airstrikes in the region to 10, on 24 February, in order to halt the ISIL advance. The airstrikes struck nine ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL vehicles.[268]

On 26 February, the number of Assyrian Christians abducted by ISIL from villages in northeastern Syria from 23–25 February rose to at least 220, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a monitoring group based in Britain.[298][299]

On 27 February, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party and Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Kurdish fighters had recaptured the town of Tell Hamis, along with most of the villages occupied by ISIL in the region. At least 127 ISIL militants were killed in the clashes, along with 30 YPG and allied fighters.[300] One Australian volunteer, who was fighting for the YPG, was also killed.[301] Many of the remaining ISIL militants retreated to Tell Brak, which quickly came under assault from the YPG and allied Arab fighters.

March–April 2015 – Battle of Sarrin and expanded Canadian and UK efforts

On 1 March 2015, YPG fighters, aided by U.S. airstrikes, were able to drive ISIL militants out of Tell Brak, reducing the ISIL occupation in the eastern Jazira Canton to the villages between Tell Brak and Tell Hamis.[302]

On 6 March, it was reported that Abu Humam al-Shami, al-Nusra‘s military chief, was killed in a U.S. airstrike targeting a meeting of top al-Nusra leaders, at the al-Nusra Front’s new headquarters at Salqin.[55]

On 9 March, the U.S. carried out another airstrike on the al-Nusra Front, targeting a military camp near Atimah, close to the Turkish border in the Idlib Governorate. The airstrike left nine militants dead.[303]

On 24 March, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada would be looking to expand Operation Impact to include airstrikes against ISIL in Syria as well.

On 26 March, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence announced the deployment of around 75 military trainers and headquarter staff to Turkey and other nearby countries in the anti-ISIL coalition, to assist with the U.S.-led training programme in Syria. The programme was set to provide small arms, infantry tactics and medical training to Syrian moderate opposition forces for over three years.[193]

On 30 March, the House of Commons of Canada authorized the extended deployment of its military for one year and to conduct operations related to the war in Syria.[304]

On 8 April, Canada initiated airstrikes in Syria, with two CF-18 fighters bombing a former military installation of the Syrian government that was captured by ISIL, near its headquarters in Raqqa.[304]

May 2015 – Al-Amr special forces raid

On 15 May, after surveillance by British special forces confirmed the presence of a senior ISIL leader named Abu Sayyaf in al-Amr,[305] 1st SFOD-Delta operators from the Joint Special Operations Command based in Iraq conducted an operation to capture him. The operation resulted in his death when he tried to engage U.S. forces in combat and the capture of his wife Umm Sayyaf. The operation also led to the freeing of a Yazidi woman who was held as a slave. About a dozen ISIL fighters were also killed in the raid, two U.S. officials said. The SOHR reported that an additional 19 ISIL fighters were killed in the U.S. airstrikes that accompanied the raid. One official said that ISIL Forces fired at the U.S. aircraft, and there was reportedly hand-to-hand combat during the raid. UH-60 Black Hawk and V-22 Osprey helicopters were used to conduct the raid, and Umm Sayyaf was held by U.S. forces in Iraq.[50][306][307]

CNN reported that a senior U.S. military official revealed that in May 2015, U.S. special operations forces came “tantalisingly close” to capturing or killing ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Raqqa, but failed to do so because classified information was leaked to the news media.[308]

Secretary of State John Kerry with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, before a bilateral meeting focused on Syria, 2015

Coalition air support was decisive in the YPG victory over ISIL in the May 2015 Western al-Hasakah offensive.

June–July 2015

U.S. air support, particularly from the 9th Bomb Squadron, was decisive in the YPG victory over ISIL in the Second Battle of Sarrin.[309] Coalition air support was also decisive in the YPG/FSA victory over ISIL in the Tell Abyad offensive.[310]

Following a 20 July suicide bombing in the Şanlıurfa Province of Turkey, believed to have been carried out by ISIL militants, as well as an ISIL cross-border attack that killed a Turkish serviceman on 23 July, Turkish armour and aircraft struck ISIL targets in cross-border engagements in northern Syria. Turkey also agreed to let the United States use the USAF Incirlik Air Base for strikes against ISIL.[311][312]

August–October 2015 – UK drone strike and Canada ceases airstrikes

On 21 August, three Islamic State fighters, two of United Kingdom nationality, were targeted and killed in Raqqa by a British Royal Air Force MQ-9 Reaper strike. Prime Minister David Cameron gave a statement to Parliament that one of the British nationals targeted had been plotting attacks in the UK. Another British national was killed in a separate air strike by U.S. forces in Raqqa on 24 August.[313]

Military situation in November 2015

In October 2015, 50 U.S. special forces operators were deployed to northern Syria to help train and coordinate anti-ISIL forces in the region.[314]

The introduction of Russian aircraft and ship based cruise missiles in support of the Syrian Government to Syrian airspace created new threats to the U.S.-led coalition. Discussions were held to deconflict Syrian airspace.

On 10 October, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported claims that two U.S. F-16 jets had “violated Syrian airspace” and bombed two electricity power plants in al-Rudwaniya, east Aleppo, “in breach of international law“.[315]

On 20 October, Canada’s Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau informed Barack Obama by phone of Canada’s intention to pull out of bombing raids in Syria. Canada would remain a coalition partner but will stop strikes.[316]

November–December 2015 – French retaliation and the UK officially begins airstrikes

U.S.-backed YPG fighters in November 2015

After deadly terror attacks in Paris conducted by jihadists, French President Francois Hollande sent its only aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, with its 26 fighters to intensify air strikes.[317]

On 27 November, SANA claimed that the coalition targeted water pumping stations in al-Khafsah area, east of Aleppo, causing them to go out of service.[318][319] According to Bellingcat‘s investigation, however, it was Russian MoD bombing[320]

On 2 December, the UK parliament voted 397-223 in favour of airstrikes in Syria.[321] Within hours, RAF Tornado jets carried out their first air strikes, targeting the al-Omar oil fields near Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria, which were under ISIL control.[322]

On 6 December, a Syrian Arab Army base at Deir ez-Zor was struck, killing at least one Syrian Arab Army soldier, with reports circulating that as many as four were killed, 13 wounded and two tanks destroyed. Syria accused the U.S. of conducting the strike, however U.S. officials denied this, claiming instead that the bombing was a mistake by Russians.[323] After the airstrikes, the SAA reported that ISIL forces began to attack the base.[324]

2016

March–April 2016 – Continued special forces operations

On 4 March, a U.S.-led Coalition airstrike targeted Omar al-Shishani, ISIL’s top field commander, who was travelling in a convoy near al-Shaddadi in northeastern Syria; the strike injured him, and supposedly died from his injuries,[325][326][327] however this was incorrect and he was actually killed later in an airstrike in Iraq in July 2016.[328] Also on 4 March, 100 ISIL militants assaulted Peshmerga lines in Syria; U.S. Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV helped the Peshmerga to repel the attack. As ISIL fighters sent a car bomb towards him, Keating led a team to counterattack with sniper and rocket fire. For his actions during the battle, he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.[329]

On 24 March, U.S. special operations forces conducted an operation with the intent of capturing Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli in Syria. Al-Qaduli, then the 6th most wanted terrorist in the world and, according to analysts, the then-second-in-command of ISIL, acting as the group’s finance minister and was involved in external plots; he also temporarily commanded ISIL after a commander was injured. U.S. Special forces inserted by helicopter and layed in wait to intercept his vehicle; the operators attempted to capture him but the situation escalated and, at the last moment, they decided to fire on the vehicle instead, killing al-Qaduli and 3 other militants.[325][326][330][331]

On 25 April, it was reported that U.S. President Barack Obama authorized the deployment of an additional 250 special operations soldiers to Syria. In the following weeks, they are to join the 50 that are already in the country; their main aim is to advise, assist and expand the ongoing effort to bring more Syrian Arab fighters into units the U.S. supports in northern Syria to combat ISIL.[332][333]

May 2016

Secretary of State John Kerry with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir during a meeting on Syria in May 2016

In late May 2016, more than a dozen U.S. special forces troops were seen in the village of Fatisah, less than 64 km (40 mi) north of Raqqa. They were fighting near the front lines with the YPG and wearing both YPG and U.S. insignia on their military uniforms; the operators were helping call in fire support for local SDF forces and coordinating airstrikes from behind the front lines in their advance toward Raqqa. However, the Pentagon and White House insisted that the troops were not fighting ISIL on the front lines and were still participating in a non-combat mission known as “train, advise and assist.”[334][335][336] Also in late May, a U.S. special forces operator was wounded north of Raqqa by indirect ISIL rocket or mortar fire.[337][338]

The Telegraph reported that British special forces had been operating on the frontline in Syria, particularly in May when they frequently crossed the border from Jordan to defend a New Syrian Army (NSA) rebel unit composed of former Syrian special forces as it defended the village of al-Tanf against ISIL attacks. They mostly helped the unit with logistics such as building defenses and making bunkers safe. The NSA captured the village that month and faced regular ISIL attacks; an ISIL SVBIED drove into the base and killed 11 members of the NSA and injuring 17 others. The wounded were CASEVAC‘d by U.S. helicopters to Jordan; the suicide attack damaged the structure of the al-Tanf base; British troops crossed over from Jordan to help them to rebuild their defences.[339][340]

June 2016 – Kurdish offensive to take Manbij

On 1 June, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News that a “thousands”-strong SDF force consisting of Sunni Arab fighter and a small contingent of Kurdish fighters (mainly from the YPG) with assistance by U.S. special forces operators and fighter jets launched an operation to recapture the strategically important ISIL-held city of Manbij in northern Syria, 32 km (20 mi) from the border with Turkey; ISIL used the town to move supplies and foreign fighters into Syria from Turkey. In the 24 hours since the start of offensive, 18 U.S. airstrikes destroyed ISIL headquarters buildings, weapons caches, training areas, six bridges and an unknown number of ISIL fighters were killed; 15 civilians were also reported killed.[337][341]

USAFCENT CAOC at Al Udeid Air BaseQatar provides command and control of air power throughout Iraq and Syria.

On 3 June, F/A-18 Hornets launched from USS Harry S. Truman conducted air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria from the eastern Mediterranean. It was the first time the U.S. Navy had conducted strike missions in the Middle East from the Mediterranean Sea since flying operations against the Iraqi military in 2003.[342]

By 9 June, the U.S. Central Command said the Coalition had conducted more than 105 strikes in support of the SDF’s advance; French special forces were offering training and advice to SDF fighters in the area[343] and on 15 June, British special forces were also reported to be operating in the area. Much of the SDF advance was made possible by Coalition air support, with airstrikes being directed by special forces personnel on the ground.[344] On the same day, four U.S. special operations troops in northern Syria were “lightly” wounded by shrapnel when an Islamic State anti-tank missile fired at a nearby vehicle exploded, but they quickly returned to duty.[345][346][347]

On 16 June, supposedly as part of Russia‘s campaign to pressure the U.S. to agree to closer cooperation over Syria, Russian military aircraft bombed, with cluster bombs, a military outpost in al-Tanf in southeast Syria that was garrisoned by the New Syrian Army (NSA); U.S. and British special forces based in Jordan regularly worked with Syrian rebels at the al-Tanf outpost. The airstrike happened 24 hours after a detachment of 20 British special forces left the outpost. After the airstrike took place, U.S. commanders warned Russia that the garrison was part of the international coalition against ISIL and therefore shouldn’t be attacked, but 90 minutes later, nearby U.S. warplanes observed Russian jets dropping a second barrage of bombs on the outpost, killing four rebel soldiers. A U.S. spy plane overhead tried to contact the Russian pilots on emergency frequencies, but the Russians did not answer. U.S. officials demanded an explanation from Moscow, but they were told the Russian pilots struck the outpost because they “thought it was an ISIL base”, Russian officials then said that Jordan had approved the strikes in advance, but Jordan denied this. Moscow also claimed its air command headquarters in Syria was unable to call off the strikes because the U.S. had not given them the precise position of the outpost.[348][349]

On 29 June, as part of the 2016 Abu Kamal offensive — the offensive by the Pentagon-trained New Syrian Army and several hundred other rebels from different factions that aimed to capture Abu Kamal and sever ISIL’s transit link between Syria and Iraq — rebel forces entered the al-Hamdan air base — 5 km (3 mi) northwest of the border town Abu Kamal following intense clashes. This followed significant advances into ISIL-held territory near the Abu Kamal border crossing, the NSA said it had captured a number of ISIL positions on the outskirts of Abu Kamal, but a raid on the town at dawn was reported to have been repelled by militants. Fighting continued around the town, as coalition airstrikes were carried out on ISIL hideouts; the NSA also said it was coordinating the assault with Iraqi government forces, who were advancing on the border from the other side. The NSA issued a statement saying “the NSA maintains control of the desert, the approaches to Abu Kamal, and maintains freedom of manoeuvre”. later on that day, ISIL militants ambushed the rebels, inflicting heavy casualties and seizing weapons, according to a rebel source. ISIL retook the airbase from the NSA and continued to advance against the rebels, recapturing some of the outposts the NSA had captured south of the town; Coalition helicopters dropped in “foreign” airborne troops on the southern edge of Abu Kamal to help the rebels in their advance; coalition jets also carried out eight airstrikes on ISIL targets in the Abu Kamal area.[350][351][352][353] A contributing reasons for the failure of the U.S.-backed rebel operation was the withdrawing of air support at a critical moment; the aircraft assigned to the operation were ordered in the middle of the operation to leave the area and instead fly to the outskirts of Fallujah, where a large convoy of ISIL fighters, which U.S. commanders considered a “strategic target”, had been seen trying to escape across the desert after the city was recaptured by the Iraqi army. The convoy was eliminated by American and British planes along with gunships and aircraft from the Iraqi air force.[354]

August 2016 – Operation Euphrates Shield

On 7 August, as part of Operation Tidal Wave II, “multiple” coalition warplanes destroyed some 83 oil tankers used by the Islamic State near Abu Kamal.[355]

CNN reported that the Coalition carried out airstrikes in support of the Turkish intervention in Syria with Syrian opposition forces in August 2016, which seized the town of Jarabulus from ISIL and pushed south and west in an effort to clear the terror group from its border. U.S. special forces had initially intended to accompany the offensive but the U.S. was still working on approving the proposal when Turkish units pushed across the border.[356]

On 30 August, the New York Times reported that Abu Mohammad al-Adnani was killed while traveling in a vehicle by a U.S. drone strike in Al-BabCNN reported that al-Adnani was a key deputy to ISIL’s leader, he also acted as the principal architect in ISIL’s external operations and as the group’s spokesman; he also coordinated the movements of their fighters – directly encouraging them to carryout lone-wolf attacks on civilians and military targets. The strike marked the highest-profile killing of an ISIL member thus far.[357][358][359]

September–October 2016 – Coalition air raid on Deir ez-Zor

On 8 September, an airstrike allegedly carried out by the United States killed Abu Hajer al-Homsi (nom de guerre Abu Omar Saraqib), the top military commander of the renamed al-Nusra Front (Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) in the countryside of the Aleppo Governorate. Abu Hajer al-Homsi was one of the founding members of the al-Nusra Front and had taken part in the Iraq War against the U.S. when he was part of the processor organization al-Qaeda in Iraq.[56] The Pentagon denied carrying out the strike and instead claimed Russia was responsible.[360]

On 16 September, CNN reported that up to 40 U.S. special forces operators were accompanying Turkish troops and vetted Syrian opposition forces as they cleared ISIL from northern Syria. The mission, called Operation Noble Lance, was authorised that week and was now underway. Officially, the U.S. personnel were to conduct the same type of “advising, assisting and training” missions that the U.S. had been providing to moderate opposition and local anti-ISIL forces.[356] The Washington Post reported that the contingent of Special Operations forces (SOF) assisting the Turkish and Syrian rebel forces around the cities of Jarabulus and al-Rai were sent at the request of the Turkish government.[361]

On 17 September, two U.S. A-10s, two Danish F-16s, and a UK Reaper drone[362][363] mistakenly bombed a Syrian Army-controlled base in the ISIL-besieged city of Deir ez-Zor. More than 62 Syrian soldiers were killed and at least 100 were wounded in the airstrike.[364][365] ISIL forces attacked immediately after the Coalition airstrike and took the strategically important elevation near Deir ez-Zor airbase: Tharda (Thurda) mountain. According to Russian and Syrian government sources, SAA forces, supported by Russian and Syrian airstrikes, counterattacked and recaptured Tharda mountain by the end of the day, suffering additional losses, including one Syrian jet fighter.[366][367] The USAF immediately issued an official explanation[368] – it was a navigation\intelligence mistake and bombing was stopped after Russian Air Force contact informed them about the SAA loses.[369] The Danish Air Force confirmed that their two F-16 fighters participated in the airstrike, insisting that operations stopped the split-second they received the message from the Russians and explaining it as a mistake and was regretting the losses.[370] Russian officials accused the U.S. in helping ISIL due to the air raid.[371] Russia also called for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council over the airstrike and the U.S. temporarily ceased airstrikes in the area.[372] In response to the errant airstrike, the Syrian Armed Forces called it a “serious and blatant attack on Syria and its military”.[372]

On 3 October, Ahmad Salama Mabruk, a senior al-Nusra Front and previously Egyptian Islamic Jihad commander, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Jisr al-Shughur.[59]

November 2016

A rebel fighter from the FSA loads a U.S.-made M2 Browning heavy machine gun in northern Aleppo, November 2016

On 18 November, a U.S. airstrike killed an Afghan al-Nusra Front commander, Abu Afghan al-Masri, in the town of Sarmada.[373]

On 24 November, the Washington Post reported that Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott C. Dayton of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 2 was killed by an IED near Ayn Issa – roughly 35 miles northwest of ISIL’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa. It was the first time a U.S. service member was killed in Syria since a contingent of SOF was deployed there in October 2015.[374]

CNN reported that on 26 November, a U.S. drone strike in Raqqa killed Boubaker Hakim, a senior ISIL terrorist suspected of enabling the Sousse terrorist attack as he had connections to the Tunisian ISIL cell that carried out the attack and the Bardo National Museum attack. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said, “His removal degrades ISIL’s ability to conduct further attacks in the West and denies ISIL a veteran extremist with extensive ties.”[375]

Stars and Stripes reported that in November 2016, airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing with a contingent of civil engineers, intelligence personnel, and security forces were temporarily deployed to expand and modify the airstrip that the airmen had established earlier in 2016 at an airbase where they deployed to near Kobani, so it can be used to assist in the offensive to retake Raqqa. The airbase gave the U.S. an additional location for its aircraft to support the Coalition and other anti-ISIL forces, but it had been used by U.S. forces limitedly due to the condition of the runway which restricted what types of aircraft could land there. General Carlton Everhart II, commander of U.S. Air Mobility Command, said that the base enabled aircraft to deliver critical supplies, equipment and help position forces; he added that airmen from the 621st group have supported anti-ISIL coalition forces on the ground in Syria.[376]

December 2016

On 4 December, it was reported that a U.S. airstrike in Raqqa killed three key ISIL leaders, two of whom (Salah Gourmat and Sammy Djedou) were involved in plotting the November 2015 Paris attacks.[377][378]

On 8 December, during the 4th Palmyra offensive, U.S.-led Coalition warplanes bombed an ISIL convoy near Palmyra in central Syria and destroyed 168 trucks carrying petroleum.[379]

On 10 December, it was reported that the U.S. was sending 200 more special operations personnel to Syria, joining the 300 U.S. special forces already in the country. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the troops would include special forces trainers, advisers and bomb disposal teams and that they will “continue organising, training, equipping, and otherwise enabling capable, motivated, local forces” to take the fight to ISIL. In particular, the troops will assist SDF forces in the ongoing Raqqa offensive; France also continues to have special operations units in the country.[380][381][382]

The New York Times reported that on 15 December, Coalition warplanes destroyed 14 Syrian Army T-72 battle tanks, three artillery systems and a number of buildings and vehicles that ISIL militants were using at a military base in central Syria that they seized the previous weekend from Syrian troops and their Russian advisers.[383]

On 31 December, a Coalition airstrike in Raqqa killed Mahmud al-Isawi, al-Isawi was an ISIL member who supported the organization’s media and intelligence structure in Fallujah before relocating to Raqqa. His role in the group was controlling the flow of instructions and finances between ISIL-held areas and ISIL leaders and provided support to propaganda and intelligence outlets; he was also known to have facilitated trans-regional travel with other ISIL external operations coordinators and had a close working and personal relationship with Abd al-Basit al-Iraqi, the emir of ISIL’s Middle East attack network, according to the U.S. defense department.[384]

2017

Joseph DunfordHulusi Akar and Valery Gerasimov discussing their nations’ operations in northern Syria, March 2017

January 2017

On 1 January 2017, a United States drone strike killed Abu Omar al-Turkistani, a Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and Turkistan Islamic Party military commander, and three other JFS members near the town of Sarmada in the northern Idlib Governorate.[385]

On 2 January, more than 25 JFS members were killed in an air raid by suspected U.S. warplanes.[386]

On 6 January, as part of the Raqqa offensive, SDF forces, supported by American special forces and international coalition aircraft, seized Qalaat Jaabar fortress after fierce fighting with ISIL jihadist fighters.[387]

On 8 January, coalition forces conducted a landing operation onto the road between the villages of Jazra and Kabr in the western Deir ez-Zor Governorate from four helicopters. The landing forces set up checkpoints on the road and raided a water plant in Kabr, where they killed and captured a number of ISIL fighters. After an hour and 15 minutes, the operation was complete and the forces withdrew.[388]

On 11 January, an air-to-surface missile launched from suspected U.S. aircraft hit a Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS) convoy consisting of five vehicles and killed 14 JFS members.[389]

On 17 January, separate U.S. airstrikes in the Idlib Governorate killed Mohammad Habib Boussaboun al-Tunisi and Abd al-Jalil al-Muslimi, two Tunisian al-Qaeda external operations leaders.[390] Also that day, it was reported that U.S. warplanes and combat advisers were supporting Turkish military units battling ISIL fighters in northern Syria, particularly at the Battle of al-Bab.[391]

On 19 January, U.S. airstrikes by B-52 strategic bombers struck the former Syrian Army Sheikh Suleiman military base near Darat Izza, in western Aleppo, which was used by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement. The airstrike killed at least 110 JFS fighters and some al-Zenki fighters,[392] including Abu Hasan al-Taftanaz, an al-Qaeda senior leader. Since 1 January 2017, more than 150 al-Qaeda members were killed by U.S. airstrikes in 2017.[120] The Sheikh Suleiman base had been operated as a training camp by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and al-Zenki since 2013.[392]

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), between 22 September 2014 and 23 January 2017, U.S.-led Coalition airstrikes killed 7,043 people across Syria, of which: 5,768 dead were ISIL fighters, 304 al-Nusra Front militants and other rebels, 90 Syrian government soldiers and 881 civilians.[393]

February 2017

On 1 February, it was reported that the U.S.-led Coalition had conducted an airstrike on the Carlton Hotel in the city of Idlib,[394] which local and NGO sources said was a Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) facility[394][395] and which pro-government media said was used by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)’s former al-Nusra component for troop housing, and hosting meetings of prominent commanders.[396] The Coalition denied responsibility, although an investigation of open source materials confirmed a strike had occurred and that a SARC facility was damaged.[397]

On 2 February, Sky News reported that Turkish aircraft killed 51 Islamic State fighters in the space of 24 hours in the areas of al-Bab, TadefQabasin, and Bizaah. The airstrikes targeted buildings and vehicles resulting in 85 ISIL positions destroyed. According to Turkish military command, since the beginning of Operation Euphrates Shield, at least 1,775 ISIL militants had been “neutralised,” with more than 1,500 of those killed.[398]

On 3 February, U.S. airstrikes hit Jund al-Aqsa and Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) positions in Sarmin, near Idlib, and killed more than 12 militants.[27] On the same day, the Royal Jordanian Air Force launched several airstrikes on ISIL outposts in southern Syria.[399]

On 4 February, a U.S. airstrike killed Abu Hani al-Masri, who was part of Ahrar al-Sham at the time of his death, but described by the Pentagon as a former al-Qaeda commander. It was reported that there was speculation that he was about to defect to Tahrir al-Sham before his death.[122][400]

On 26 February, in Al-Mastoumeh, Idlib, a U.S. drone strike killed Abu Khayr al-Masri, the deputy leader of al-Qaeda.[54][401][402] He had been released and allowed into Syria as part of a prisoner swap between Iran and al-Qaeda in 2015.[401][403][404][405] The U.S. airstrike also killed another Tahrir al-Sham militant, who was traveling in the same car.[406][407] It was later revealed in May 2019 that the missile used in the airstrike was a Hellfire R9X, which has a kinetic warhead with pop-out blades, intended to reduce collateral damage.[408]

March 2017 – Regular U.S. forces arrive and the Battle of Tabqa

United States special operations forces near Manbij, acting as advisors to the Syrian Democratic Forces, March 2017

On 8 March, various news outlets reported that regular U.S. troops, part of an amphibious task force, left their ships in the Middle East and deployed to Syria to establish an outpost from which they can provide artillery support for U.S.-backed local forces who were preparing to assault Raqqa in a battle to liberate the city from ISIL control. The deployment marked a new escalation in the U.S.’s role in Syria and put more conventional U.S. troops on the ground, a role that, thus far, had primarily been filled by Special Operations units. The ground force was part of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit; 400 U.S. Marines from the Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines were tasked to crew an artillery battery of M777 howitzers whilst additional infantrymen from the unit will provide security. Resupplies were to be handled by a detachment of the expeditionary force’s combat logistics element. A defense official with direct knowledge of the operation said the Marines were flown from Djibouti to Kuwait and then into Syria. By then, there were 900 U.S. soldiers and Marines deployed to Syria in total (500 special forces troops were already on the ground to train and support the SDF); under the existing limits put in place by the Obama administration, the formal troop cap for Syria is 503 personnel, but commanders have the authority to temporarily exceed that limit to meet military requirements. There were approximately 100 U.S. Army Rangers in Stryker vehicles and armored Humvees deployed in and around Manbij in northern Syria, U.S. officials said. Officially, they are there to discourage Syrian, Russian, or Turkish troops from making any moves that could shift the focus away from an assault on ISIL militants, specifically preventing them from inadvertently coming under fire. The U.S. believed the pressure on ISIL in Raqqa was working – a U.S. official said that intelligence indicates some ISIL leadership and operatives were continuing to try to leave the city. He added that there was also U.S. intelligence that indicated the city was laced with trenches, tunnels, roadside bombs and buildings wired to explode, which, if correct, indicated that the U.S. has likely been able to gather intelligence from both overhead surveillance aircraft and people on the ground. However, the official also noted that “Raqqa will probably not be the final battle against ISIS” and added that the group still has some personnel dispersed in areas south and east of the city. According to the official, the U.S. estimated that ISIL could have had roughly as many as 4,000 fighters in Raqqa. An official told The Guardian that in addition, the U.S. is preparing to send hundreds of troops to Kuwait on stand-by to be ready to fight ISIL in Syria if needed and the number would be fewer than 1,000. The Independent reported that Colonel John Dorrian, a spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, said the artillery unit and the Army Rangers would not have a front line role.[409][410][411][412][413][414]

U.S. Marines manning artillery in northern Syria, March 2017

On 16 March, a U.S. airstrike hit a mosque in western Aleppo and killed more than 42 people, mostly civilians. The location was assessed by the U.S. military as a meeting place for al-Qaeda and claimed that the airstrike hit a target across the mosque and was not targeted at the mosque itself.[415]

Stars and Stripes reported that on 28 March, an airman assigned to the 21st Space Wing died in a non-combat incident (possibly of natural causes) in northern Syria.[416]

On 22 March, hundreds of SDF fighters, with an undisclosed number of U.S. Special Operations troops operating as their advisers, launched a large-scale heliborne assault on ISIL around the area of the Tabqa Dam.[417][418][419] They were inserted on the southern bank of the Euphrates river behind ISIL’s defenses to take them by surprise; Colonel Joe Scrocca, an OIR spokesman, said that as a result of the air insertion behind ISIL lines, the SOF-SDF force did not come under fire. The following day, there was heavy fighting in the area; Col. Scrocca added that the ground forces were supported by helicopter gunships, U.S. Marine 155mm artillery and U.S. airstrikes.[417]

Airwars reported that March 2017 saw the greatest number of munitions dropped during the war thus far – 3,878 munitions on ISIL targets in both Syria and Iraq, based on figures published by United States Air Forces Central Command – as well as the highest number of civilian deaths (between 477 and 1,216 non-combatants, 57% of which were in Syria) to date, likely caused by Coalition strikes, exceeding casualties caused by Russian strikes for the third consecutive month.[420][421] Significant incidents that were attributed to Coalition strikes occurred in Tabqa and Kasrat al-Faraj during the Battle of Tabqa. The deadliest incident occurred in al-Mansoura, where local witnesses said at least 33 civilians were killed in a former school used to house displaced persons, although this was denied by the Coalition.[420]

April 2017 – Shayrat missile strike

File:US armoured vehicles pass through Qamishli.ogv

U.S. Army Stryker vehicles drive through Qamishli onwards to the Syria-Turkey border after border clashes between the YPG and Turkey

U.S. military transport helicopters fly over northeastern Syria

On 6 April, U.S. special forces conducted a landing operation against ISIL west of Deir ez-Zor. Two Coalition helicopters airdropped soldiers in the area who then interdicted a car[422] on route from Raqqa to Deir ez-Zor. During the operation, U.S. forces killed four ISIL commanders and extracted a Jordanian spy who had infiltrated ISIL and served as one of its leaders.[423] CNN reported that the operation took place near Mayadin and that one of the ISIL commanders killed by U.S. forces was Abdurakhmon Uzbeki, a top facilitator and close associate of ISIL’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; he was also connected to the 2017 New Year’s nightclub bombing in Turkey.[424]

On 7 April, in response to chemical weapon attacks (most notably the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack) against Syrian civilians allegedly by the Syrian government, the U.S. launched missile strikes on the airfield from which the chemical weapon attacks were allegedly launched.[425] This incident marked the first deliberate direct attack by the U.S. on the Assad government.[426] The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the attack as being based on false intelligence and against international law, suspended the Memorandum of Understanding on Prevention of Flight Safety Incidents that had been signed with the U.S., and called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.[427]

On 8 April, ISIL militants attacked a U.S. garrison at al-Tanf in Southern Syria: the garrison’s main gate was blown up with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), followed by a ground assault of about 20-30 ISIL militants, some of whom were wearing suicide vests. The U.S. Central Command said that the ″U.S. special operators″ at the base along with other coalition members and ″U.S.-backed Syrian fighters″, supported by multiple airstrikes, repelled the attack, with no American casualties.[428][429][430] The Telegraph reported that during the battle, ISIL militants also ambushed a convoy of reinforcements from an allied rebel group who were trying to relieve the base.[431]

Protest against U.S. military actions in Syria, Minneapolis, April 2017

CNN reported that on 11 April, a misdirected U.S. airstrike near Tabqa, during the ongoing Raqqa offensive, killed 18 SDF soldiers.[432]

May 2017

The BBC reported that on 9 May, a Royal Air Force drone strike stopped an ISIL-staged public killing. The hellfire missile killed an ISIL sniper positioned on a rooftop set to shoot civilians attempting to walk away. No civilians were harmed and other ISIL fighters fled on motorbikes.[433]

The Independent reported on 12 May that SDF forces had seized control of the Tabqa Dam after a deal struck by the SDF and around 70 ISIL militants; the deal included the dismantling of IEDs and booby traps, the surrender of heavy weaponry and withdrawal of remaining ISIL fighters from Tabqa city.[434]

On 18 May, the U.S. conducted airstrikes on a convoy of a pro-government militia during the 2017 Baghdad–Damascus highway offensive.[435] According to a U.S. defense official, before the strikes were conducted, government troops were warned they were getting too close to Coalition forces garrisoned at al-Tanf but did not respond.[436] According to the U.S., four or five vehicles were destroyed, including a tank[437] and two bulldozers.[438] In contrast, the Syrian Army reported that two tanks were destroyed and a Shilka SPAAG was damaged.[439] Eight soldiers were killed.[437][440]

June 2017 – Battle of Raqqa begins

United States Marine Corps howitzers provide fire support to the SDF during the Battle of Raqqa

On 6 June, SDF ground troops backed by Coalition airstrikes launched the battle for RaqqaUSCENTCOM reported that 4,400 munitions were fired in support of operations in Raqqa, a dramatic increase from previous months.[441]

Also on 6 June, U.S. aircraft conducted airstrikes on over 60 troops, a tank, artillery, antiaircraft weapons, and armed technical vehicles from pro-government forces that had entered what the Coalition called the al-Tanf “deconfliction zone”.[442][443] On 8 June, a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft shot down a drone and other aircraft destroyed two armed pick-up trucks belonging to pro-government forces that moved near U.S. backed fighters at al-Tanf.[444][445]

On 18 June, a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 after it allegedly bombed an SDF position in Ja’Din, south of Tabqa. A statement by the Syrian Army claimed that the plane was on a mission to bomb ISIL militants. The same day, pro-government forces captured the village of Ja’Din following an SDF withdrawal.[446][447][448][449] On 20 June, a U.S. F-15E shot down a pro-government Shahed 129 drone near al-Tanf after it “displayed hostile intent” and allegedly advanced towards Coalition forces.[450]

Across Iraq and Syria, Airwars tracked 223 reported Coalition airstrikes with civilian casualties during June 2017, likely killing a minimum of between 529 and 744 civilians (including at least 415 in Syria, mainly in Raqqa governorate, making it the second mostly deadly month for civilians since the strikes began in 2014.[441] Significant reported incidents included 3 June in Raqqa (20 civilians), 5 June (hitting civilians fleeing conflict), and 8 June in Raqqa (including reported white phosphorus use and a mosque hit).[441]

August 2017

On 21 August, U.S. forces in northern Syria were fired on by Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army units near Manbij, and returned fire in a short firefight.[451]

On 29 August, following the Qalamoun offensive, ISIL militants were surrounded by LebaneseHezbollah and Syrian forces on both sides of the Lebanon–Syria border. They negotiated a safe-passage deal so that 670 ISIL fighters and their relatives would be taken from the border in vehicles to Abu Kamal. The U.S. military disapproved of the deal; Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said the deal undermined efforts to fight the ISIL in Syria. U.S. aircraft carried out airstrikes, blocking the road the ISIL convoy was travelling on, before it reached ISIL-occupied territory in Deir ez-Zor Governorate. Dillon added that other U.S. airstrikes hit militants apparently attempting to join the stranded militants in the convoy.[451] The Independent later reported that the convoy was trapped in between the towns of Humayma and al-Sukhnah.[452]

September 2017

U.S. Green Berets during counter-ISIL operations in southern Syria, November 2017

On 3 September, the Independent reported that 400 ISIL militants and their families traveling in the convoy that was trapped by U.S. airstrikes in Syria in late August had abandoned their vehicles and began travelling on foot to the Iraqi border.[452]

December 2017

CNN reported that on 12 December, Maghawir Al-Thawra fighters accompanied by U.S. advisers intercepted a convoy of about ten vehicles that was passing through the 55 km “de-confliction” zone surrounding the coalition base at al-Tanf; a firefight ensued, resulting in 21 ISIL fighters killed and a further 17 captured.[453]

CNN reported that on 13 December, two U.S. F-22A fighters intercepted two Russian Su-25 jets that crossed the “de-confliction line” multiple times. An Air Forces Central Command spokesman said that “The F-22s conducted multiple maneuvers to persuade the Su-25s to depart our de-conflicted airspace, including the release of chaff and flares in close proximity to the Russian aircraft and placing multiple calls on the emergency channel to convey to the Russian pilots that they needed to depart the area.” One U.S. defense official said that a Russian Su-35 fighter was also involved in the incident.[454]

On 22 December, Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said that Australia will end their air strikes against the Islamic State and recall its six Super Hornet aircraft. Payne added that other Australian operations in the region would continue, with 80 personnel who are part of the Special Operations Task Group in Iraq, including Australian special forces, continuing their deployment.[455]

2018

January 2018

Military Times reported on 12 January that Coalition aircraft carried out more than 90 airstrikes between January 4 and January 11 near the Iraq-Syria border.[456]

Military Times also reported that on 20 January, U.S. airstrikes targeting an ISIL headquarters and command and control center in the Middle Euphrates River Valley (MERV) near Al-Shaafah killed nearly 150 ISIL militants. According to a press release, SDF fighters provided target observation and intelligence on the target.[457]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the United States’ support for Kurdish YPG fighters in northern Syria.[458]

February–March 2018 – The Khasham engagement

Kurdish YPG and YPJ fighters in February 2018

According to U.S. military officials, on 7 February, in deliberate air and artillery strikes, the U.S.-led coalition killed more than 100 pro-government fighters in the Euphrates River valley in Deir ez-Zor province after they launched an “unprovoked attack” against the Syrian Democratic Forces.[459] Syrian state news corroborated the events, but insisted that the Kurdish forces were mixed in with ISIL forces; it also stated that ten Russian mercenaries were among those killed.[460]

CNN reported that on 30 March, Master Sergeant Jonathan J. Dunbar of Delta Force and Sergeant Matt Tonroe of the British Special Air Service were killed by an IED blast during a mission in Manbij, the objective of which was — according to Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway — to “kill or capture a known ISIS member.”[461]

April–June 2018

On 14 April, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the U.S., France, and the United Kingdom had decided to carry out a series of military strikes against the Syrian government.[462][463] The strikes came in the wake of the Douma chemical attack.[464][465]

On 1 May, the SDF, in coordination with the Iraqi Armed Forces, announced the resumption of their Deir ez-Zor offensive to capture the final ISIL enclaves near the Iraqi border and along the Euphrates.[466] By 3 May, the USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group had joined in support of the SDF’s anti-ISIL operations.[467]

U.S. and Turkish forces conduct joint patrols on the outskirts of Manbij, Syria, 8 November 2018

One 21 June, the U.S.-led coalition conducted airstrikes against Syrian army positions in east of Homs, killing at least 1 Syrian soldier.[468] On 22 June, the Coalition claimed that they responded to an attack by an “unidentified hostile force” near al-Tanf.[469]

November 2018

On 1 November, the Coalition began a series of joint patrols with the Turkish Armed Forces along the frontlines of the Kurdish-controlled Manbij region and the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army‘s territory. The move was seen as a part of a “roadmap” to ease tensions between the two NATO allies and reduce violence between Kurdish and Turkish-backed elements.[470]

On 21 November, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis announced the U.S. would set up new observation posts along the Turkish border in northern Syria in order to reduce skirmishes between Turkish forces and armed Kurdish militants in the region such as the border clashes in late October-early November. Mattis affirmed that it was a co-operational endeavor with Turkey and it will not require additional U.S. troops to be deployed to Syria.[471][472]

December 2018 – Announcement of U.S. withdrawal

Military situation in December 2018:

 Controlled by the Syrian government
 Controlled by Syrian Kurds
 Controlled by the Islamic State (ISIL)
File:DVIDS - Video - Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve Strike Video.webm

CJTF-OIR airstike on an ISIL fuel truck in al-Susah, 29 November 2018

President Donald Trump, declaring “we have won against ISIS,” unilaterally announced on 19 December 2018 that the remaining 2,000-2,500 U.S. troops in Syria would be withdrawn. Trump made the announcement on Twitter, overruling the recommendations of his military commanders and civilian advisors, with apparently no prior consultation with Congress. Although no timetable was provided, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders indicated that the withdrawal had already been ordered. Various sources indicated that Trump had directed that the withdrawal be completed within 30 days.[473][143][144][474] However, Reuters was told by a U.S. official that the withdrawal was expected to take 60 to 100 days.[145][475] Following Trump’s surprise announcement, the Pentagon and State Department tried to change his mind, with several of his congressional and political allies expressing serious concerns about the sudden move, specifically that it would hand control of the region to Russia and Iran and abandon America’s Kurdish allies.[476][477]

CNN reported on 24 December that during the weeks before Trump’s withdrawal announcement, national security advisor John Bolton told senior officials to meet directly with anti-ISIL coalition partners to assure them that America would remain in Syria until Iran had left. One senior administration official commented that Trump’s decision was “a complete reversal,” done “without deliberation,” reportedly leaving allies and partners “bewildered.” According to one CNN analysis, the announcement reportedly came as the Coalition had reason to believe ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his top commanders were possibly cornered in a small pocket of northern Syria, “in a Tora Bora situation” akin to the region where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden escaped from American forces in 2001.[478][479]

On 27 December, administration officials stated that USCENTCOM‘s troop withdrawal plan entailed the withdrawal taking place over several months instead of weeks, falling in line with Trump’s post-announcement comments that the pullout of U.S. troops would be “deliberate and orderly.” By the end of the month, it remained unclear whether anti-ISIL air operations would continue post-withdrawal.[480] By 31 December, after U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and a group of generals held a luncheon with the president over the withdrawal, Graham tweeted that Trump would seek a more gradual withdrawal over a course of several months; a slow down of the withdrawal was not officially confirmed by the administration at the time.[481]

In December 2018, US President Donald Trump announced that US troops involved in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in northeast Syria would be withdrawn imminently. Trump’s surprise decision overturned Washington’s policy in the Middle East. It fueled the ambitions and anxieties of local and regional actors vying over the future shape of Syria. Many experts proposed that President Trump could mitigate the damage of his withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Syria by using Special Activities Center.[482] Many believe the president chose “to replace U.S. ground forces in Syria with personnel from the CIA’s Special Activities Center” and that the process has been underway for months. Already experienced in operations in Syria, the CIA has numerous paramilitary officers who have the skills to operate independently in harms way. And while the CIA lacks the numbers to replace all 2,000 U.S. military personnel currently in Syria and work along side the Syrian Democratic Forces (these CIA personnel are spread cross the world), but their model is based on fewer enablers and support.[483]

2019

January 2019

File:DVIDS - Video - Coalition Forces Conduct Airstrike on Daesh Facility Syria.webm

CJTF-OIR airstrike on an ISIL building in al-Shaafah, 4 January 2019

On 6 January 2019, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, while on a trip to Israel and Turkey, said that the pullout of U.S. troops from Syria depended on certain conditions, including the assurance that the remnants of ISIL forces are defeated and Kurds in northern Syria were safe from Turkish forces.[484] However, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected the call to protect Kurdish troops, whom he regarded as terrorist groups.[485] On 10 January, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. would withdraw its troops from Syria while continuing the battle against ISIL. He also stated that there would be no U.S. reconstruction aid for areas controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad until Iran and its “proxies” had left.[486][487] On 11 January, Coalition spokesman Col. Sean Ryan confirmed the U.S. troop withdrawal process from Syria had begun. “Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements,” he said. The SOHR observed that the Coalition had started scaling down its presence at Rmeilan airfield in al-Hasakah.[488] U.S. defense officials said it had begun the removal of equipment, but not yet troops, and that the total amount of U.S. soldiers in Syria may temporarily increase in order to provide security for the final pullout. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian welcomed what he believed was a slower, more effective withdrawal by the U.S. after pressure from its allies.[489]

On 15 January the Coalition released fresh numbers regarding their ongoing operations in both Syria and Iraq. Between 30 December 2018 and 6 January 2019, the Coalition conducted 575 air and artillery strikes against ISIL in Syria; the strikes destroyed 105 ISIL mortar and rocket artillery units, 50 IED manufacturing sites, 26 vehicles, 19 weapons caches, and two UAV systems. Between January 7–13, airstrikes in the MERV near the Iraqi border also killed around 200 militants including four senior commanders.[490]

On 29 January, with ISIL cornered in its final redoubt due to the Kurdish-led conquest against it in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan proclaimed at his first news conference as SecDef that the Coalition will liberate all of the Islamic State’s remaining self-proclaimed caliphate in “two weeks”. “I’d say 99.5 percent plus of…the ISIS-controlled territory has been returned to the Syrians. Within a couple of weeks it will be 100 percent,” Shanahan said. He added that the U.S. is still in the early stages of what he called a “deliberate, coordinated, disciplined withdrawal,” from Syria and that “very important dialogues going on in major capitals” about support to Syria once the U.S. leaves were ongoing.[491]

February 2019 – Kurds corner ISIL in Baghuz

President Donald Trump reiterated his support for withdrawing American ground troops from both Syria and Afghanistan in a series of tweets on 1 February amid proliferating concerns among America’s allies, politicians, analysts, and local activists over a feared power vacuum in Syria post-withdrawal. “I inherited a total mess in Syria and Afghanistan, the ‘Endless Wars’ of unlimited spending and death. During my campaign I said, very strongly, that these wars must finally end. We spend $50 Billion a year in Afghanistan and have hit them so hard that we are now talking peace after 18 long years,” Trump tweeted. The day prior, the U.S. Senate had issued a rebuke of the president cautioning against the “precipitous withdrawal” of military forces; furthermore the United States Intelligence Community contradicted the president on its perception of the global threat ISIL continued to pose during a Senate committee hearing.[492] A draft Pentagon report emerged on 1 February warning that ISIL could regain territory in Syria within a year following a U.S. disengagement from Syria.[493] On 5 February, CENTCOM commander General Joseph Votel noted during a Senate Armed Services Committee testimony that he had not been consulted prior to Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces, reinforcing the notion that the U.S. withdrawal was ordered completely unilaterally from the White House without prior consultation with relevant military advisors and Defense Department personnel.[494]

On 6 February, President Trump, while at a summit of 79 foreign ministers and officials that assisted in the global coalition against ISIL, predicted a formal announcement of a final victory against ISIL as early as the following week. “Remnants – that’s all they have, remnants – but remnants can be very dangerous,” Trump said in regards to ISIL. “Rest assured, we’ll do what it takes to defeat every ounce and every last person within the ISIS madness”.[495] The Wall Street Journal, citing State Department officials, reported on 8 February that the U.S. pullout was expected to be complete by April, with the majority of ground troops expected to be already withdrawn by mid-March. A U.S. official confirmed to Reuters that the withdrawal included pulling troops from al-Tanf.[496]

An Operation Inherent Resolve summary on Coalition activity between 27 January and 9 February detailed air and artillery strikes conducted in Iraq and Syria. The Coalition conducted 176 strikes in Syria. Targets included: 146 ISIL tactical units, 131 supply routes, 53 fighting positions, 31 staging areas, 14 VBIEDs, 13 pieces of engineering equipment, 11 explosive belts, nine tankers for petroleum oil and lubricants, eight tactical vehicles, five command and control nodes, four buildings, three aircraft operations areas, three tunnels, two petroleum oil and lubricant storage facilities, two manufacturing facilities for IEDs, two artillery pieces, two weapons caches, and one armored vehicle.[497]

After the SDF’s assault on Baghuz Fawqani began on 9 February, CENTCOM commander Joseph Votel told CNN on 11 February that ISIL losing physical territory does not mean the end of the organization. “Putting military pressure on [ISIL] is always better, it’s always easier when you are there on the ground, but in this case our President has made a decision and we are going to execute that and so it’s my responsibility as the CENTCOM commander working with my chain of command to look at how we do that,” adding that the completion of the U.S. pullout was “weeks away…but then again it will be driven by the situation on the ground”.[498]

Trump tweeted late on 16 February urging European countries to repatriate the over 800 captured suspected ISIL members from Syria, warning the U.S. may be forced to release them otherwise. Kurdish prisons could not hold the ISIL members and all their families, totaling around 2,000 people, indefinitely. The Kurds called the situation a “time bomb”.[499][500] The U.S.-Kurdish demand to take responsibility got mixed responses from Europe. German foreign minister Heiko Maas said repatriation would be possible only if returning fighters could be immediately taken into custody, which would be “extremely difficult to achieve” without proper judicial information. France, whose citizens made up the majority of European ISIL recruits, said it would not act immediately on Trump’s call but would take militants back “case by case,” and not categorically. Britain has said its fighters can return only if they seek consular help in Turkey, while acknowledging repatriation was a dilemma. Belgium’s justice minister Koen Geens called for a “European solution,” urging “calm reflection and a look at what would pose the least security risks.” The Hungarian foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, said the issue was “one of the greatest challenges ahead of us for the upcoming months.”[501]

After announcing the U.S. would keep a “peacekeeping” force of around 200-400 troops in Syria — instead of the initially planned total withdrawal — on 22 February, senior Trump administration and defense officials stated the decision was an endorsement of a plan pressed by U.S. military leaders for some time, calling for an international force, preferably NATO or regional Arab allies, of 800 to 1,500 troops that would monitor a safe zone along Syria’s border with Turkey.[502]

March–April 2019

On 10 March, John Bolton stated that he was “optimistic” France and the UK would commit personnel to the planned observer force. He also reiterated the U.S. commitment to keep troops in Iraq.[503] On 20 March, in response to new developments in the Battle of Baghuz Fawqani, President Trump predicted that the remaining ISIL holdout would be cleared “by tonight” during a speech at the Lima Army Tank Plant in Lima, Ohio. “The caliphate is gone as of tonight,” he said, as he used maps depicting ISIL’s territorial collapse since November 2016; later, the November 2016 map was shown to actually be a map from 2014 when ISIL was at its peak territorial size, before the Coalition’s anti-ISIL operations.[504][505]

On 23 March, the U.S.-backed SDF announced victory in the battle of Baghuz, signifying the territorial collapse of ISIL in Syria, a critical milestone for the U.S.-led Syrian intervention.[37] U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Mulroy stated that the physical caliphate was defeated but ISIL was not and that there were over 10,000 completely unrepentant fighters left in Syria and Iraq.[506] He expected the U.S. to be in Syria for the long haul with a very capable partner in the Syrian Democratic Forces.[507][508][509] He said that the U.S. partnership with the SDF was a model to follow, like the partnership with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban and with the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq as the northern front against Saddam Hussein.[510]

U.S.-Turkish negotiations over joint troop patrols in a designated safe zone along the northern Turkish-Syrian border continued into late April as the UK and France rejected a plan to provide troops to a buffer zone between Rojava and Turkey, claiming their missions in Syria are only to fight ISIL. With their troop numbers set to be cut to 1,000 in upcoming months, the U.S. reportedly prefers a narrower strip of land to patrol than the approximately 20 miles that Turkey has proposed. The Turks would send their own troops into the buffer zone while only demanding U.S. logistical help and air cover. The Turkish proposal reportedly saw push back as the Americans prefer to avoid a situation that effectively pushes the Turkish border 20 miles into Syria, further increasing the chances of clashes with the Kurds instead of reducing it.[511]

May 2019

The Syria Study Group, a U.S. Congressionally-appointed panel of experts tasked with assessing the situation in Syria, similar to the Iraq Study Group appointed in 2006, released an interim report on 1 May endorsing the view that instead of a draw down, the U.S. should reassert its presence in Syria, citing the prospect of a potential ISIL resurgence, Russian “prestige” after successfully propping up the Assad government, perceived Iranian entrenchment in the country, and al-Qaeda retaining control in the form of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham‘s dominance in northwestern Syria, a region U.S. warplanes rarely venture to due to the nearby presence of Russian air defenses deployed on behalf of the Syrian government. The report argued that the U.S. should step up attempts to isolate Assad and counter Iranian influence in the region; it also argued that the U.S. should take in more Syrian refugees, the admittance of which the Trump administration has reduced from thousands to just a few dozen in recent years. The report further underlined the differing views between the president and comparatively more hawkish Congress on what direction to take the U.S.’s commitments in the country.[512]

June–July 2019

A U.S. AH-64 Apache on an escort mission in northeastern Syria, 22 June 2019

On 30 June 2019, in a rare operation against non-ISIL elements, the U.S. carried out a strike against an al-Qaeda in Syria (AQ-S) leadership meeting at a training facility west of Aleppo,[25] which killed eight jihadists from the Guardians of Religion Organization, including six commanders: two Tunisians, two Algerians, an Egyptian and a Syrian.[24] It was the first known coalition strike in western Syria since February 2017 due to the U.S. and Russia arranging an unofficial deconfliction boundary that largely bars any substantial U.S. forces from venturing into the region. The U.S. did not specify what assets were used in the strike.[513]

In July, U.S. special anti-ISIL envoy James Jeffrey continued to urge Britain, France and Germany to assist the U.S.’s ground mission in Syria. “We want ground troops from Germany to partly replace our soldiers” in the area as part of the anti-Islamic State coalition, Jeffrey told German media.[148]

During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Deputy Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Michael Mulroy stated that the SDF has over 2,000 foreign terrorist fighters in custody from over 50 countries—in which they spend quite a bit of time, effort and resources taking care of—and that the U.S. has pushed these countries to take back their citizens. The number of Americans who joined ISIL on the battlefield is small compared to countries like France and the UK, where several hundred foreign fighters traveled from.[514]

August 2019

On 7 August 2019, the U.S. and Turkey reached a framework deal to jointly implement a demilitarized buffer zone in the areas between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers—excluding the Manbij area—in northern Syria. Terms of the deal include joint U.S.-Turkish ground patrols, the relocation of some Syrian refugees into the area, and the withdrawal of heavily armed YPG and YPJ forces and fortifications from the Syria–Turkey border, leaving the areas under SDF military council rule instead.[515] On 24 August, the SDF began dismantling border fortifications under the supervision of U.S. forces. On 27 August, YPG units began withdrawing from Tell Abyad and Ras al-Ayn.[516]

On 31 August, in a second attack against non-ISIL militants in western Syria since June 30, the U.S. carried out a series of airstrikes on a Rouse the Believers Operations Room meeting between Kafriya and Maarrat Misrin, killing over 40 Guardians of Religion militants, including several leaders.[23][517]

October 2019

On 7 October 2019, a senior U.S. official said US troops will pull back from Syria and potentially depart the country entirely.[518] American troops left observation posts in the border villages of Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, and White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham indicated Turkey will “soon be moving forward” with military operations in Northern Syria. She further stated that “the United States armed forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”[519]

Airstrikes on the Khorasan Group

One of the groups targeted by U.S. airstrikes was the Khorasan Group, an extremist group of suspected al-Qaeda “core” members who were alleged to have been plotting an attack against the U.S. and other Western nations.[215] The strikes targeted Khorasan training camps, explosives and munitions production facilities, communications facilities, as well as command and control facilities. The group has been claimed to possess advanced bomb making skills and their plot is claimed to involve a bomb made of a nonmetallic device such as a toothpaste container or clothes dipped in explosive material.[520] The group is reportedly led by Muhsin al-Fadhli, a leader of al-Qaeda and a close confidant of Osama bin Laden.[520] Intelligence officials expressed concern that the group may include militants who were taught by Ibrahim al-Asiri, the chief bomb maker for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who is known for his sophisticated bomb making techniques that nearly downed two Western airliners.[520]

Later statements by government officials indicated that the threat of a plot may have been less severe than initially reported.[521][522] One official indicated that “there did not yet seem to be a concrete plan in the works”,[521] while another told The Guardian that “there was no indication of an imminent domestic threat from the group” at the time the United States began bombing.[522]

On 6 November, a second round of airstrikes was launched against Khorasan and al-Nusra in northwestern Syria, along with Ahrar ash-Sham at its headquarters in Idlib, whose leadership had been infiltrated by al-Qaeda.[31] On 13 November 2014, the US launched a third set of airstrikes against Khorasan.[523] On 19 November, the US carried out another airstrike on Khorasan near Hazm, which struck and destroyed a storage facility associated with the group.[274] On 1 December, the US carried out another airstrike on Khorasan near Aleppo.[277]

On 24 March 2015, it was revealed that the US airstrikes on Khorasan had killed 17 militants from the group.[524]

On 8 July 2015, a US airstrike near the town of Sarmada in Idlib, Syria, killed Muhsin al-Fadhli, the leader of Khorasan.[62]

Ground operations

During the beginning of the coalition interventions, leaders, including U.S. President Obama, said coalition ground forces would not be used in the fight against ISIL either in Iraq or Syria unless they were local coalition forces.[525] While in Iraq thousands of coalition troops from the United States and other nations had been deployed in an advisory capacity, in Syria no ground troops from the coalition intervening in Syria were deployed in the beginning of the intervention.[526][527]

2015-16

Syrian Democratic Forces soldiers in Manbij, 2016

In November 2015, the Obama administration began the deployment of U.S. special forces to Syria, on the mission of assisting rebel forces in their fight against ISIL, President Obama then ordered several dozen Special Operations troops into Rojava in northern Syria to assist local fighters battling the Islamic State, authorizing the first open-ended mission by American ground forces into the country.[528]

ISIL’s deputy leader in Syria, Abu Ali al-Anbari, was killed by JSOC special forces operatives in March 2016, in eastern Syria near the Syrian–Iraqi border, while he and three other ISIL members were traveling in a vehicle coming from Raqqa. The US Special Forces ordered him to exit the vehicle, intending to arrest him. When he refused and pulled out an assault rifle instead, US forces fired at the vehicle, killing him and the other passengers on board. US commandos also seized electronics and other documents during the operation for intelligence purposes.[529]

In March 2016, King Abdullah of Jordan said that British forces had helped in the building up of a mechanized battalion in southern Syria, consisting of tribal fighters to combat the Syrian Army.[530]

On 17 March 2016, the day after the declaration of the Federation of Northern Syria, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter praised the Syrian Democratic Forces as having “proven to be excellent partners of ours on the ground in fighting ISIL. We are grateful for that, and we intend to continue to do that, recognizing the complexities of their regional role.”[531]

Significant U.S. Armed Forces presence at Al-Tanf, Syria began in early 2016

During the SDF’s May 2016 offensive against ISIL in Northern Raqqa, U.S. Special Forces were widely reported and photographed to be present, with some of them wearing badges of the Kurdish YPG and YPJ on their uniforms.[532] On 21 May, Joseph Votel, commanding general of U.S. Central Command, completed a secret hours-long trip to northern Syria to visit several locations where there were U.S. special operations forces and meet with local forces the U.S. was helping train to fight ISIL. The visit came as the first of 250 additional U.S. special operations forces were beginning to arrive in Syria to work with local forces. The commander overseeing the war in Syria, at the end of a long Saturday spent touring SDF bases, said “We do, absolutely, have to go with what we’ve got”.[533]

In September 2016, the U.S. spokesman for the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR) confirmed that the SDF, including the YPG, is also part of the “vetted forces” in the train and equip program and will be supplied with weapons. The President of TurkeyRecep Tayyip Erdoğan, condemned this and claimed that the SDF are “endangering our future”.[534]

In October 2016, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, the commander of the international coalition against ISIL, said that the SDF would lead the impending assault on Raqqa, ISIL’s then-stronghold and capital, and that SDF commanders would plan the operation with advice from American and coalition troops.[535] From November 2016, more than 300 U.S. Special Operations Forces were embedded to train and advise SDF fighters in the Raqqa offensive.[536]

2017-18

Kurdish troops and U.S. armored vehicle in Al-Hasakah, May 2017

U.S. Army 310th Engineer Company maintaining a Mabey Logistic Support Bridge during the Battle of Raqqa, 29 July 2017

File:DVIDS - Video - Coalition supports SDF fight against ISIS.webm

U.S. Marines and Army Special Forces operating in support of the SDF in Syria, October 2018

U.S. and Turkish soldiers conduct joint patrols, Manbij outskirts, 1 November 2018

In March 2017, the Trump administration deployed an additional 400 U.S. Marines to Syria to expand the fight against ISIL in the Raqqa offensive where they could provide artillery support for U.S.-backed local forces that were preparing an assault on Raqqa to liberate the city from IS militants. The deployment marked a new escalation in the U.S.’s war in Syria, and put more conventional U.S. troops in the battle that, until then, had primarily used Special Operations units. The 400 Marines were part of the 11th MEU from the Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. They manned an artillery battery of M-777 Howitzers whilst additional infantrymen from the unit provided security; resupplies were handled by part of the expeditionary force’s combat logistics element.[537] During the Raqqa campaign alone, this small artillery battalion fired over 40,000 shells (including 34,033 155mm), more than were used in the entire 2003 invasion of Iraq and only 20,000 fewer than all those fired by the U.S. military in Operation Desert Storm.[538]

In March 2018, SDF press secretary in Deir ez-Zor Mehdi Kobani reportedly told Sputnik Turkiye that U.S. forces were building a “large military base” in the oil-rich al-Omar region of Deir ez-Zor as new equipment had been reportedly arriving to U.S. bases in Syria. The al-Omar oilfield is the largest oil deposit in Syria, and was captured by the SDF during their campaign against ISIL in October 2017.[539][540]

It was reported in June 2018 that the 441st Air Expeditionary Squadron reportedly maintains an unpaved runway in SarrinRaqqa Governorate.[541][542][543]

2019-20 partial withdrawal of U.S. ground forces

On 19 December 2018, President Donald Trump announced that he ordered the pullout of all 2,000-2,500 U.S. troops operating in Syria, though no clear timetable was given.[544] U.S. operations in al-Tanf continued into 2019.[545]

On 16 January 2019, a suicide bombing claimed by ISIL in the SDF-controlled town of Manbij killed four U.S. personnel and injured three servicemen, making it the deadliest attack on Coalition forces in the country since the intervention.[546][547][548] The ISIL attack drew a second round of criticism of the U.S. president’s withdrawal order, with critics linking the attack with an emboldening of ISIL terror and insurgent tactics due to the announcement of a U.S. pullout, despite the group’s continued loss of territory in Syria.[549] President Trump offered condolences to the families of the slain American citizens on 17 January while he reaffirmed his policy of withdrawing troops.[550] Trump paid tribute to the fallen Americans during a trip to Dover Air Force Base in the U.S. state of Delaware on 19 January, where their remains were received.[551]

On 21 January, an ISIL SVBIED targeted a U.S. convoy accompanied by SDF troops on the ShadadiAl-Hasakah road in Al-Hasakah province, killing five SDF personnel. Witnesses said the SVBIED rammed into an SDF vehicle by a checkpoint held by Kurdish forces a dozen kilometers outside Shadadi as the U.S. convoy drove past. No Americans were harmed.[552]

CNN reported on 24 January that additional U.S. troops were moved to Syria to help provide security for the pullout of equipment and personnel as they are moved out via air and land routes. U.S. Department of Defense officials said the additional security forces would move around Syria to different locations as needed and may move in and out of the country at times. Troop numbers would also fluctuate as American presence gradually declines. Defense officials declined to give specifics on numbers, locations, or timetables, citing security concerns.[553] Local sources reported to Anadolu Agency on 28 January that around 600 U.S. troops had allegedly entered eastern Syria from western Iraq to help with the withdrawal process, arriving at discreet bases in Harab Isk and Sarrin villages set to be used as main evacuation centers during the withdrawal. The news agency added that the American-controlled airfields in Rmeilan and Tell Beydar would be used to airlift heavy weapons and equipment from the country; the Coalition itself did not confirm these reports.[554]

By the end of January 2019, according to two U.S. officials, more than 10 percent of American equipment and supplies had been removed from Syria, with 3,000 additional personnel brought into the country to facilitate the draw-down of forces. By 9 February, hundreds of U.S. airstrikes and ground support for the SDF continued as the Kurdish-led force began its final assault on the last ISIL holdouts trapped in a small cluster of hamlets in eastern Syria (including Al-Baghuz Fawqani and southern Al-Marashidah) no larger than a few square miles. U.S. officials, including President Donald Trump, believed the SDF would be able to defeat the remaining diehard ISIL fighters “in days”, bringing an end to ISIL’s claim of a territorial caliphate.[555]

On 18 February, Commander-in-Chief of the SDF Mazlum Kobane expressed hopes the U.S. would halt its total pullout. Kobane said there were discussions about perhaps French and British troops supporting them, but demanded 1,000-1,5000 U.S. troops stay in Syria to provide “air cover, air support and a force on the ground” to help the SDF in its ongoing fight against ISIL. CENTCOM commander Gen. Joseph Votel reiterated the U.S. withdrawal was continuing.[500]

With the general withdrawal continuing, the White House announced late on 21 February that 200 residual U.S. troops would remain in Syria as a “peacekeeping force”. The peacekeeping deployment would be indefinite.[556] The next day it was revealed the actual number was 400 troops, not 200, as half would be based in Rojava and half at al-Tanf. Officials stated it was a part of an initiative to get NATO allies to commit to a multinational observer force that would establish a “safe zone” in Rojava to keep the Kurds and Turks from clashing, to prevent pro-Syrian government forces from attacking the Kurds, and to keep up pressure to prevent an ISIL resurgence. The U.S. is not seeking a United Nations mandate for the deployment and currently does not envision asking NATO to sponsor the mission, an administration official said, adding that the troops would not technically be “peacekeepers,” a term that carries restricted rules of engagement.[502]

On 7 March, Gen. Joseph Votel confirmed that U.S. forces were in no rush to pullout by a specific date, instead saying the completion of the withdrawal was conditional on ISIL no longer posing a security threat to U.S. forces and their allies.[557] By late March, the U.S. continued to stretch the timetable for the pullout. On 29 March, U.S. officials reportedly said the Pentagon’s latest plans called for cutting its combat force in northeastern Syria roughly in half by early May 2019, or to about 1,000 troops, and would then pause pullout operations. The military would then reduce the number of forces every six months, depending on conditions on the ground, until it reaches the 400 troops previously approved by the president. Under this plan, the lowest troop numbers wouldn’t be reached until autumn 2020. The longer timetable would provide the U.S. more time to negotiate and work out details over the planned multinational safe zone along Turkey’s border. Officials cautioned that the timetable was open-ended and still subject to change, with factors ranging from allied troop contributions to new orders from the president himself.[558]

In early May, video emerged online of U.S. forces firing upon an alleged Syrian government barge ferrying oil supplies in the Middle Euphrates River Valley. The video was posted on Facebook by the pro-SDF “Deir Ezzor Media Center”.[559]

Turkish involvement

Turkish soldiers and Free Syrian Army fighters at the building in Afrin that had hosted the PYD-led government of Afrin Region, 18 March 2018

Turkey, a NATO member, has been involved in the Syrian Civil War since the beginning of hostilities. Turkey has trained and armed some members of the Free Syrian Army and al-Qaeda in Syria,[560][561] and has been involved in certain spillover incidents, however so far Turkey has not been involved in direct combat. On 2 October 2014, the Turkish Parliament authorized direct military action in both Iraq and Syria including using military force in Syria and Iraq as well as allowing coalition members to use bases in Turkey.[562] Turkey has also stationed troops and tanks on its southern border near the Syrian border city of Kobanî.[563] The Turkish government demanded several things to go along with them intervening against ISIL, including a buffer zone in Northern Syria, a no-fly zone over certain parts of northern Syria, ground troops from other countries, and the training of moderate opposition forces to fight both ISIL and al-Assad.[564][565]

In October 2014, Vice President Joe Biden accused Turkey of funding al-Nusra and al Qaeda,[566] to which Erdoğan angrily responded, “Biden has to apologize for his statements” adding that if no apology is made, Biden would become “history to me.”[567] Biden subsequently apologized.[568]

Turkey also holds sovereignty over the Tomb of Suleyman Shah 35 km inside Syria, where it maintains a small garrison of Special forces that is surrounded by ISIL-controlled territory.[569]

On 22 February 2015, the Turkish Army mounted a rescue operation across the border to evacuate its soldiers from the Tomb of Suleyman Shah, an exclave of Turkey south of Kobanî. The Turkish convoy reportedly transited through Kurdish-held Kobanî en route to the tomb. One Turkish soldier was killed in what Ankara described as an accident. The success of the operation was announced 22 February by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.[570]

Rising anti-American sentiment in Turkey has occurred since the start of the Turkish invasion of northern Syria in January 2018 aimed at ousting U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds from the enclave of Afrin. A poll conducted in Turkey during the operation revealed that 90 percent of respondents believed that the United States is “behind” the Kurdish PKK and YPG.[571] After the start of the Turkish invasion, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis stated that “Turkey is a NATO ally. It’s the only NATO country with an active insurgency inside its borders. And Turkey has legitimate security concerns.”[572] Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag urged the United States to halt its support for Kurdish YPG fighters, saying: “Those who support the terrorist organization will become a target in this battle.”[573]

In October 2019, Senator Lindsey Graham warned that he would “introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if they invade Syria“. He said he would also “call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the US in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate”.[574]

Northern Syria Buffer Zone

U.S. and Turkish soldiers rendezvous in the Northern Syria Buffer Zone, 4 October 2019.

On 15 January 2019, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he agreed with setting up a 35 km “safe zone” in northern Syria after engaging with US President Donald Trump a couple days prior.[575]

On 7 August 2019, after months of negotiations, Turkey and the U.S. reached a deal to create a 115 kilometer buffer zone in northern Syria along the Syria–Turkey border between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Separate from Turkey’s own occupation zone in northern Syria, the deal is partly implemented to prevent a potential future Turkish ground incursion into Rojava against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. Under the framework of the deal, the U.S. and Turkey would conduct joint troop patrols and Turkish reconnaissance aircraft would be allowed to monitor the zone. Kurdish YPG and YPJ forces along the Turkish border would dismantle border fortifications and withdraw to a “security belt” alongside regular SDF forces and remove all heavy weapons from the area. In turn, Turkey would not conduct airstrikes or establish military observation posts in northern Syria and will not “occupy” the region, as administrative and civil rule will be relegated to SDF military councils and the Kurdish Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria. According to the SDF, the majority of the zone will not include any cities or towns.[576]

Reports of civilian casualties and war crimes

On 29 September 2014, several groups including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the Aleppo Media Center, and the Local Coordination Committees reported that U.S. strikes hit a grain silo in the ISIL-controlled town of Manbij in northern Syria, killing two civilians.[577][578]

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported ten airstrikes, also targeting various parts of the province of Idlib, killed at least one child and six other civilians. The group said at least 19 civilians had been killed in coalition airstrikes at that time.[579] The Pentagon reported it had no evidence of any civilian casualties from airstrikes targeting militants in Syria.[580] The United States has also acknowledged that its rules to avoid civilian casualties are looser in Syria than those for drone strikes elsewhere.[581]

The SOHR and other activist groups reported that seven civilians were killed when an air strike hit a gas distribution facility near the town of al-Khasham is the eastern Deir al-Zor province on 17 October 2014 and three civilians were killed in an air strike on 16 October 2014 in the north east province of al-Hassakah. According to their reports, most of the civilians killed were fuel tanker drivers.[582]

Destroyed neighborhood in Raqqa in August 2017

According to Reuters, 50 civilians were killed in Syria by US-led airstrikes, from the start of the campaign in late September 2014 to mid-November.[583] On 28 December 2014, a U.S. airstrike in the northern Syrian town of Al-Bab killed more than 50 civilians.[584]

On 21 May 2015, the United States admitted it “probably” killed two children in bombings near Harem on 4 and 5 November 2014. These are the first such admissions of the campaign, and followed a military investigation. A similar investigation regarding an event in Syria is underway, and two regarding events in Iraq.[585] Two adult civilians were also minorly injured in the Harem strikes. The deaths and injuries are attributed by the military investigation to unintentional secondary explosions, after the bombers hit their intended targets, linked to the Khorasan.[586] On 19 July 2016 a coalition led airstrike on the ISIL controlled villages of Tokhar and Hoshariyeh reportedly killed at least 56 civilians, including 11 children.[587] On 3 August 2016, dozens of civilians were killed after an airstrike in al-Qa’im, some sources claiming that 30 were killed.[588]

Airwars, which “maintains an extensive database of all known allegations in which civilians and friendly forces have been reported killed by the Coalition since August 2014”, reports between 503 and 700 civilians were killed by Coalition airstrikes in Syria as of April 2016.[589]

At least 33 people were killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike on a school near Raqqa in March 2017[590] in what is described as war crime.[citation needed] On 16 March 2017, a U.S. airstrike in rebel-held Aleppo killed at least 46 people and wounded more than 100 after warplanes hit a mosque.[591]

According to a report by Amnesty International, the U.S.-led Coalition has provided falsified data to conceal the actual number of civilian deaths resulting from their bombing campaigns and is “deeply in denial” about civilian casualties in Raqqa. After an investigation by Amnesty International in June 2018, the U.S.-led Coalition confirmed that “coalition air strikes killed 70 civilians, mostly women and children – including 39 members of a single family.”[592]

According to Airwars,[593] the strikes of U.S.-led coalition killed as many as 6,000 civilians in Syria and Iraq in 2017.[594]

On 2 May 2018, Britain’s Ministry of Defense admitted for the first time that a civilian was “unintentionally” killed in an anti-ISIL drone strike on 26 March 2018. According to the MoD, the civilian was on a motorbike and entered the target area at the last minute. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said the incident was “deeply regrettable”.[595][596]

On 25 April 2019 a joint investigation by Amnesty International and Airwars of over 200 strike sites reported that anti-ISIL Coalition bombing during the 2017 Battle of Raqqa had killed 1,600 civilians alone. CJTF-OIR reported the month prior that its 4-year operations over both Iraq and Syria amounted to 1,257 civilian casualties overall. “Coalition forces razed Raqqa…Amnesty International and Airwars call upon the Coalition forces to end their denial about the shocking scale of civilian deaths and destruction caused by their offensive in Raqqa,” the investigators said in a joint statement. The Coalition responded that they “continue to employ thorough and deliberate targeting and strike processes to minimize the impact of our operations on civilian populations and infrastructure.”[597]

By October 2019, Airwars estimated 8,214-13,125 civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria due to Coalition airstrikes, including 1,744–2,333 children and 3,609 named victims. The Coalition’s own estimate of civilian deaths was 1,335.[598]

Results

According to CJTF-OIR, by May 2016, ISIL had lost 25 percent of the territory it possessed in Syria since the campaign began, mostly due to advances by YPG/SDF forces with heavy Coalition air support.[599] Overall, by the end of 2016 the U.S.-led air campaign against ISIL in both Iraq and Syria was estimated by the Pentagon to have struck 32,000 targets (including 164 tanks, 400 Humvees, and 2,638 pieces of oil infrastructure) and killed 50,000 militants, with approximately 1/3 of these losses taking place in Syria.[35][600] By December 2017, the Pentagon increased the estimate to 80,000 ISIL fighters killed by coalition airstrikes between Iraq and Syria.[601]

By 23 March 2019, the day of ISIL’s territorial collapse in Syria, CJTF-OIR and partner forces had liberated nearly 110,000 square kilometers (42,471 square miles) from the Islamic State; as a result, 7.7 million people no longer lived under ISIL’s “caliphate”.[602]

Reactions

Foreign reactions

  • Australia – Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister of Australia, praised the intervention, saying that an international effort was needed in order to combat the ISIL threat.[215] Despite Abbott’s support for the intervention, the Australian Government said it is not likely to contribute forces to operations in Syria.[603]
  • Canada – Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, said in October 2014 Canada would strike ISIL targets in Syria if the Assad government gave approval.[604] New Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called President Obama almost immediately after coming into office to inform him that Canada will be ceasing air operations in coordination with Americans. Trudeau did not give a time frame.[605]
  • Czech Republic – Lubomír Zaorálek, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic supported the intervention against the Islamic State and said that it’s important to keep supporting the ground forces in the battle against ISIS and the Czech Republic will keep providing military support to the Iraqi army and to the Kurdish Peshmerga. He also noted that air strikes won’t defeat Islamic State. The Czech government said that ISIS is enemy not only for safety in the Middle East, but also for security and stability in the Czech Republic and Europe.[606]
  • Ecuador – The Ecuadorian government opposed the airstrikes in Syria without the consent of the Syrian government.[607]
  • Egypt – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi expressed his government’s support for the international campaign against ISIL, and a spokesperson for the Egyptian foreign ministry echoed his statements by reiterating the Egyptian government’s willingness to back the war against ISIL.[608][609]
  • Germany – German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier questioned whether President Obama’s plan was adequate in order to combat ISIL and said Germany had not been asked to participate in airstrikes nor would it participate if asked.[610]
  • Iran – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned ISIL’s actions but also called the airstrikes in Syria “illegal” because they were conducted without the consent of the Syrian government.[611] Iran’s deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian was reported in Iranian media as saying that Iran had warned the United States that Israel would be at risk should the US and its allies seek to topple Syrian president Bashar al-Assad while fighting ISIL in Syria.[612]
  • Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel fully supported the U.S. government’s calls for united action against ISIL.[610]
  • Japan – A spokesperson for the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Japanese government would continue to closely coordinate with the United States and other countries, along with offering support and cooperation in their strikes against ISIL.[613]
  • Netherlands – Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, showed understanding for the intervention against ISIL in Syria and said that his government was exploring options to contribute in the fight against ISIL.[614]
  • Russia – Alexander Lukashevich, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, opposed the military intervention “without the consent of the legitimate government” and said that “this step, in the absence of a UN Security Council decision, would be an act of aggression, a gross violation of international law”.[212] On 14 October, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov questioned the motives of the intervention, saying “Maybe their stated goal is not entirely sincere? Maybe it is regime change?” He also questioned the effectiveness of the year long campaign “With, as far as I know, 25,000 sorties they [US-led air campaign] could have smashed the entire [country of] Syria into smithereens,” continuing to remark that “positive results ‘on the ground’ are not visible”. He also criticized the continued supply of arms to rebels, saying “I want to be honest, we barely have any doubt that at least a considerable part of these weapons will fall into the terrorists’ hands.” He continued to call for the countries involved to join a coalition made up of Russian, Syrian, Iranian, Iraqi, Jordanian and Hezbollah forces against what Russia claims is solely ISIL and al Qaeda, but the US has asserted is primarily non-jihadist opposition forces.[615][616]
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Russian President Vladimir Putin, described the US air strikes on the Shayrat airbase as “an act of aggression against a sovereign state delivered in violation of international law under a far-fetched pretext…. a serious blow to Russian-US relations, which are already in a poor state”.[617]
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov referred to the Sharyat attack as “an act of aggression under a completely invented pretext”. He compared events in April 2017 to “the situation of 2003, when the USA, the UK and several of their allies invaded Iraq without the UN Security Council’s approval – a grave violation of international law – but at that point they at least tried to show some material evidence.”[617]
  • Turkey – The Davutoglu Government called on the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to approve measures that would grant extensive authority to the President to launch military operations in both Syria and Iraq, including the authority to send troops across the border, although it is unclear whether the Turkish leadership intends to act on that authority. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged the establishment of a no-fly zone by coalition forces in northern Syria.[618]
  • United Kingdom – A spokesperson for British Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK would not rule out airstrikes in Syria against ISIL.[610] On 26 September 2014 Parliament voted 524 to 43 to approve action inside Iraq.[619] While visiting Iraqi Kurdistan in mid October, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he saw no immediate demand from U.S. and Arab militaries for Britain to extend its airstrikes to Syria.[620] British Defense Minister Michael Fallon said on 21 October that British Reaper drones and Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft would be starting intelligence-gathering missions in Syria “very shortly.” [80]
  • United Nations – Ban Ki-moonUN secretary-general, welcomed the airstrikes against militants in Syria, but noted that the involved parties “must abide by international humanitarian law and take all precautions to avoid and minimize civilian casualties”.[621]
  • Venezuela – At the 69th General Assembly of the United Nations, President Nicolas Maduro said “It’s President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government which have stopped the terrorists” and continued by saying “Instead of bombing and bombing, we must make an alliance for peace”.[622][623]

Syrian reactions

  • Syria – A week before the first airstrikes, Ali Haidar, the Syrian Minister of National Reconciliation, said that “any action of any kind without the consent of the Syrian government would be an attack on Syria”.[212] However, despite Haidar’s original statement, after the coalition campaign began, the Syrian government struck a more conciliatory tone with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem suggesting the airstrikes were an indication that Syria and the anti-ISIL coalition were on the same side.[624]
  • Syrian opposition Syrian opposition – Hadi Bahra, the leader of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces called for airstrikes against ISIL before the intervention began. The coalition is recognized by 20 countries, the European Union, and the Arab league as the legitimate representative of Syria in opposition to the Assad government. Bahra said strikes were needed to weaken ISIL, a faction in the inter-rebel conflict during the Syrian Civil War, so that the Free Syrian Army and other moderate opposition forces could oppose Assad more effectively.[625] Despite Bahra’s support, many Syrian rebel groups have criticized U.S. airstrikes for targeting only ISIL who are enemies of the Assad government, while not also targeting Assad government forces, the results of which could help government forces gain more ground.[581] Meanwhile, jihadist groups within the opposition have portrayed the coalition as an anti-Sunni stooge of the Syrian regime,[626] while many Sunnis in Syria are angered that only extremist Sunnis are being targeted while mostly Shiite Assad forces aren’t targeted.[627] Some rebels defected to extremist groups as a result of the U.S. decision to strike jihadist groups other than ISIL, such as the al-Nusra Front.[628]

See also

References…

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American-led_intervention_in_the_Syrian_Civil_War

Kurds in Syria

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Kurds in Syria
Total population
estimates from 1.6 million to 2.5 million [1][2][3][4]
Regions with significant populations
Al-HasakahQamishliTell TamerKobanîAfrin
Languages
mainly Kurdish (Kurmanji)[5]; also Arabic (North Levantine ArabicModern Standard Arabic)
Religion
Majority: Sunni Islam, Minority: Shia IslamKurdish Christianity[6]
Related ethnic groups
other Kurds

Ethnic decomposition map of Syria, Kurdish inhabited areas are shaded in pink, in 1976

The Kurdish population of Syria is that country’s largest ethnic minority,[7] comprising between 7% and 15% of the country’s population according to most sources.[1][8][9][10][7]

The northeastern Kurdish inhabited region covers the greater part of Hasakah Governorate. The main cities in this region are Qamishli (Qamishlo) and Al-Hasakah. Another region with significant Kurdish population is Kobanî (officially known as Ayn al-Arab) in the northern part of Syria near the town of Jarabulus and also the city of Afrin and its surroundings along the Turkish border.

Human rights organizations have accused the Syrian government of routinely discriminating and harassing the Syrian Kurds.[11][12] Many Kurds seek political autonomy for the Kurdish inhabited areas of Syria, similar to Iraqi Kurdistan in Iraq, or outright independence as part of Kurdistan. In the context of the Syrian Civil War and the Rojava conflict, Kurds have established a self-governing region,[13][14][15] known as the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and commonly termed as “Rojava”.[16]

Demographics

Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria, and make up between 7 and 10 percent of the Syrian population as of 2011—between 1.6 and 2.5 million people.[17][2][9][10][1] The Kurdish population in Syria is relatively small in comparison to the Kurdish populations in nearby countries, such as Turkey (14.4–16 million), Iran (7.9 million), and Iraq (4.7–6.2 million).[1]The majority of Syrian Kurds speak Kurmanji, a Kurdish dialect spoken in Turkey and northeastern Iraq and Iran.[18]

It is estimated that at the beginning of the 20th century around 12,000 Kurds lived in Damascus; an unknown number of Kurds lived in the Kurd-Dagh region; 16,000 Kurds lived in the Jarabulus region; and an unknown number lived in the Jazira province where they were likely the majority.[19] In the 1920s after the failed Kurdish rebellions in Kemalist Turkey, there was a large influx of Kurds to Syria’s Jazira province. It is estimated that 25,000 Kurds fled at this time to Syria.[20] According to Stefan Sperl, these Kurdish newcomers constituted no more than 10% of the Kurdish population of Jazira at the time and all were granted citizenship by the French mandate authorities who recognized their agricultural skills.[21] However, the French official reports show the existence of at most 45 Kurdish villages in Jazira prior to 1927. A new wave of refugees arrived in 1929.[22] The mandatory authorities continued to encourage Kurdish immigration into Syria, and by 1939, the villages numbered between 700 and 800.[22] Sperl’s estimation also contradicts the estimates of the French geographers Fevret and Gibert,[23] who estimated that in 1953 out of the total 146,000 inhabitants of Jazira, agriculturalist Kurds made up 60,000 (41%), nomad Arabs 50,000 (34%), and a quarter of the population were Christians.[23]

Even though Kurds have a long history in Syria, the government has used the fact that many Kurds fled to Syria during the 1920s to claim that Kurds are not indigenous to the country and to justify the government’s discriminatory policies against them.[24][25]

Geography

Kurds mostly live in a geocultural region in Northern Syria. This region covers the governorate of Al Hasakah (formerly the Jazira province), a region also inhabited by many ArabsAssyriansArmenians and Chechens. The main cities in this region are Qamishli and Al-Hasakah. It also convers most of the northern part of Aleppo governornate. There is a big Kurdish population in the Kurd Dagh (Kurd mountains) area, located in the northwestern part of Aleppo governorate. This region extends both ethnically and culturally to the Turkish regions of KilisIslahiye and Kirikhan.The region of Kobanê (Ayn al-Arab), located in the eastern part of the Aleppo governorate, also has a significant Kurdish population, perhaps best known for resisting the long siege by ISIS. The northern countryside of Aleppo governorate, alternatively known as Şehba, also has a significant Kurdish population. Kurds mainly live in the rural countryside. The main towns are ManbijAl-Bab and Azaz, while also containing important smaller towns such as QabasinAl-Ra’i and Jarabulus.

Sometimes the Kurdish inhabited areas of Northern Syria are called “Kurdistana Binxetê” in Kurdish, which means Kurdistan below the border. Referring to the Syrian-Turkish border.

Many Kurds live in the large cities and metropolitan areas of the country, for example, in the neighborhood of Rukn al-Din in Damascus which was formerly known as Hayy al Akrad (Kurdish Quarter), and the Aleppo neighbourhood Sheikh Maqsood.[26][27]

History

Early settlements

The Crusade fortress of Krak des Chevaliers near Homs, which is known in Arabic as Hisn al-Akrad (Castle of the Kurds), was originally the location of a Kurdish military settlement.

Kurdish settlement in Syria goes back to before the Crusades of the 11th century. A number of Kurdish military and feudal settlements from before this period have been found in Syria. Such settlements have been found in the Alawite and north Lebanese mountains and around Hama and its surroundings. The Crusade fortress of Krak des Chevaliers, which is known in Arabic as Hisn al-Akrad (Castle of the Kurds), was originally a Kurdish military settlement before it was enlarged by the French Crusaders. Similarly, the Kurd-Dagh (Kurdish Mount) has been inhabited by Kurds for more than a millennium.[28]

Ayyubid period

In the 12th century, Kurdish and other Muslim regiments accompanied Saladin, who was a Kurd from Tikrit, on his conquest of the Middle East and establishment of the Ayyubid dynasty (1171–1341), which was administered from Damascus. The Kurdish regiments that accompanied Salidin established self-ruled areas in and around Damascus. These settlements evolved into the Kurdish sections of Damascus of Hayy al-Akrad (the Kurdish quarter) and the Salhiyya districts located in the north-east of Damasacus on Mount Qasioun.[29] The Kurdish community’s role in the military continued under the Ottomans. Kurdish soldiers and policeman from city were tasked with both maintaining order and protecting the pilgrims’ route toward Mecca. Many Kurds from Syria’s rural hinterland joined the local Janissary corp in Damascus. Later, Kurdish migrants from diverse areas, such as DiyarbakirMosul and Kirkuk, also joined these military units which caused an expansion of the Kurdish community in the city.[30]

Ottoman period

The first licensed female doctors in India, Syria and Japan. Anandibai Joshee (Indian), Kei Okami (Japanese), Sabat Islambooly (Kurdish Jew from Syria)[31] – October 10, 1885

During the Ottoman period (1516–1922), some large Kurmanji-speaking Kurdish tribal groups both settled in and were deported to areas of northern Syria from Anatolia. The largest of these tribal groups was the Reshwan confederation, which was initially based in the Adiyaman region but eventually also settled throughout Anatolia. The Milli confederation, which was documented in Ottoman sources from the year 1518 onward, was the most powerful tribal group and dominated the entire northern Syrian steppe in the second half of the 18th century. The Kurdish dynasty of Janbulads ruled the region of Aleppo as governors for the Ottomans from 1591 to 1607 and were allied with the Medici of Tuscany.[32] At the beginning of the 17th century, districts of Jarabulus and Seruj on the left bank of the Euphrates were settled by Kurds.[33] In the mid-18th century, Ottomans recognized Milli tribal leaders as iskan başi or chief of sedentarization in Raqqa area. They were given taxing authority and controlling other tribes in the region. In 1758, Milli chief and iskan başi Mahmud bin Kalash entered Khabur valley, subjugated the local tribes and brought the area under control of Milli confederation and attempted to set up an independent principality. In 1800, the Ottoman government appointed the Milli chief Timur as governor of Raqqa (1800–1803).[34][35][36]

The Danish writer Carsten Niebuhr, who traveled to Jazira in 1764, recorded five nomadic Kurdish tribes (Dukurie, Kikie, Schechchanie, Mullie and Aschetie) and six Arab tribes (Tay, Kaab, Baggara, Geheish, Diabat and Sherabeh).[37] According to Niebuhr, the Kurdish tribes were settled near Mardin in Turkey, and paid the governor of that city for the right of grazing their herds in the Syrian Jazira.[38] These Kurdish tribes gradually settled in villages and cities and are still present in Jazira (modern Syria’s Hasakah Governorate).[39]

The demographics of this area underwent a huge shift in the early part of the 20th centuryOttoman authorities with the cooperation of Kurdish troops (and to a lesser degree, Circassian and Chechen tribes) persecuted Armenian and Assyrian Christians in Upper Mesopotamia and were granted their victims’ land as a reward.[40][41] Kurds were responsible for most of the atrocities against Assyrians, and Kurdish expansion happened at the expense of Assyrians (due to factors like proximity).[42] Kurdish as well as Circassian and Chechen tribes cooperated with the Ottoman (Turkish) authorities in the massacres of Armenian and Assyrian Christians in Upper Mesopotamia, between 1914 and 1920, with further attacks on unarmed fleeing civilians conducted by local Arab militias.[43][44][41][45][46]

Kurdish-inhabited areas

In 1936, there French forces Bombarded Amuda (Tusha Amudi). On 13 August 1937, in a revenge attack, about 500 Kurds from the Dakkuri, Milan, and Kiki tribes attacked the then predominantly Christian Amuda[47] and burned the mostly Assyrian town.[48] The town was destroyed and the Christian population, about 300 families, fled to the towns of Qamishli and Hasakah.[49]

In other parts of the country during this period, Kurds became local chiefs and tax farmers in Akkar (Lebanon) and the Qusayr highlands between Antioch and Latakia in northwestern Syria. The Afrin Plateau northwest of Aleppo, just inside what is today Syria, was officially known as the “Sancak of the Kurds” in Ottoman documents.[50] The Millis revolted against the Ottoman government after the death of their leader Ibrahim Pasa and some of them eventually settled for the most part on the Syrian side of the newly drawn Turkish-Syrian border of 1922.[51][52]

The immigration of some Kurds to Syria began in 1926 following the failure of the rebellion of Saed Ali Naqshbandi against the Turkish authorities.[53] They were granted citizenship by the French mandate authorities.[54][41] During the great war, Kurdish tribes attacked and sacked and villages in Albaq District immediately to the north of Hakkari mountains. According to Lieutenant Ronald Sempill Stafford, large numbers of Assyrians and Armenians were killed.[55]

French Mandate

Following World War I, the victorious Allied powers and the defeated Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of Sèvres of 10 August 1920. The treaty stipulated that Ottoman Kurdistan, which included Kurdish inhabited areas in present Syria, was to be given autonomy within the new Turkish Republic, with the choice for full independence within a year. The Kemalist victory in Turkey and subsequent territorial gains during the Turkish War of Independence led to the renegotiated Treaty of Lausanne of 24 July 1923, which made no mention of a future Kurdish state. The majority of Ottoman Kurdish territory was given to Turkey and the rest was divided between the newly established French Mandate of Syria and British Mandate of Iraq.[56]

Provisions of the Treaty of Sèvres for an independent Kurdistan (in 1920).

Under the French Mandate of Syria, the Kurds enjoyed considerable rights as the French Mandate authority encouraged minority autonomy as part of a divide and rule strategy and recruited heavily from the Kurds and other minority groups, such as Alawite and Druze, for its local armed forces.[57] Between December 1931 and January 1932, the first elections under the new Syrian constitution were held.[58] Among the deputies there were three members of the Syrian Kurdish nationalist Xoybûn (Khoyboun) party from the three different Kurdish enclaves in Syria: Khalil bey Ibn Ibrahim Pacha (Jazira province), Mustafa bey Ibn Shahin (Jarabulus) and Hassan Aouni (Kurd Dagh).[59]

In the mid-1930s, there arose an autonomist movement in the Jazira province among Kurds and Christians. Its Kurdish leaders were Hajo Agha, Kaddur Bey, and Khalil Bey Ibrahim Pasha. Hajo Agha was the Kurdish chief of the Heverkan tribal confederation and one of the leaders of the Kurdish nationalist party Xoybûn (Khoyboun). He established himself as the representative of the Kurds in Jazira maintaining the coalition with the Christian notables, who were represented by the Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Gabriel I Tappouni and Michel Dôme the Armenian Catholic president of the Qamishli municipality. The Kurdish-Christian Coalition wanted French troops to stay in the province in case of Syrian independence, as they feared the nationalist Damascus government would replace minority officials by Muslim Arabs from the capital. The French authorities, although some in their ranks had earlier encouraged this anti-Damascus movement, refused to consider any new status of autonomy inside Syria and even annexed the Alawite State and the Jabal Druze State to the Syrian Republic.[60]

In 1936, there French forces Bombarded Amuda (Tusha Amudi). On 13 August 1937, in a revenge attack, Kurdish tribes sided with Damascus and about 500 men from the Dakkuri, Milan, and Kiki tribes led by the Kurdish tribal leader Sa’ed Agha al-Dakkuri attacked the then predominantly Christian Amuda[61] and burned the town.[48] The town was destroyed and the Christian population, about 300 families, fled to the towns of Qamishli and Hasakah.[49]

Syrian independence

Osman Sabri and Hamza Diweran along with some Kurdish politicians, founded the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (KDPS) in 1957.[62] The objectives of KDPS were promotion of Kurdish cultural rights, economic progress and democratic change. Following their demands for the recognition of the Kurdish cultural rights, the Party got suppressed by the United Arab Republic and the possession of Kurdish publications or music was enough to be sent to be detained.[63] KDPS was never legally recognized by the Syrian state and remains an underground organization, especially after a crackdown in 1960 during which several of its leaders were arrested, charged with separatism and imprisoned. After the failure of Syrian political union with Egypt in 1961,[63] Syria was declared an Arab Republic in the interim constitution.

Syrian Arab Republic

Jazira census

On 23 August 1962, the government conducted a special population census only for the province of Jazira, which was predominantly Kurdish. As a result, around 120,000 Kurds in Jazira (20% of Syrian Kurds) were stripped of their Syrian citizenship even though they were in possession of Syrian identity cards.[64] The inhabitants who had Syrian identity cards were told to hand them over to the administration for renewal. However, many of those Kurds who submitted their cards received nothing in return. Many were arbitrarily categorized as ajanib (‘foreigners’), while others who did not participate in the census were categorized as maktumin (‘unregistered’), an even lower status than the ajanib; for all intents and purposes, these unregistered Kurds did not exist in the eyes of the state. They could not get jobs, become educated, own property, participate in politics, or even get married. In some cases, classifications varied even within Kurdish families: parents had citizenship but not their children, a child could be a citizen but not his or her brothers and sisters. Those Kurds who lost their citizenship were often dispossessed of their lands, which were given by the state to Arab and Assyrian settlers.[65] A media campaign was launched against the Kurds with slogans such as Save Arabism in Jazira! and Fight the Kurdish Menace!.[66]

These policies in the Jazira region coincided with the beginning of Barzani‘s uprising in Iraqi Kurdistan and discovery of oilfields in the Kurdish inhabited areas of Syria. In June 1963, Syria took part in the Iraqi military campaign against the Kurds by providing aircraft, armoured vehicles and a force of 6,000 soldiers. Syrian troops crossed the Iraqi border and moved into Kurdish town of Zakho in pursuit of Barzani’s fighters[67]

Arab cordon

Syrian policies in the 1970s led to Arabs resettling in majority Kurdish areas.[68] In 1965, the Syrian government decided to create an Arab cordon (Hizam Arabi) in the Jazira region along the Turkish border. The cordon was along the Turkish-Syrian border and 10–15 kilometers wide,[69] stretched from the Iraqi border in the east to Ras Al-Ain in the west. The implementation of the Arab cordon plan began in 1973 and Bedouin Arabs were brought in and resettled in Kurdish areas. The toponymy of the area such as village names were Arabized. According to the original plan, some 140,000 Kurds had to be deported to the southern desert near Al-Raad. Although Kurdish farmers were dispossessed of their lands, they refused to move and give up their houses. Among these Kurdish villagers, those who were designated as alien were not allowed to own property, to repair a crumbling house or to build a new one.[70] In 1976 the further implementation of the arabization policy along the Turkish border was officially dropped by Hafez al Assad. The achieved demographic changes were not reverted though.[69]

Newroz protests

In March 1986, a few thousand Kurds wearing Kurdish costume gathered in the Kurdish part of Damascus to celebrate the spring festival of Newroz. Police warned them that Kurdish dress was prohibited and they fired on the crowd leaving one person dead. Around 40,000 Kurds took part in his funeral in Qamishli. Also in Afrin, three Kurds were killed during the Newroz demonstrations.[71]

Qamishli riots

The flag of Kurdistan is banned in Syria, but it has begun to be flown during the Syrian uprising and civil war.[72][73]

After an incident in a football stadium in Qamishli, 65 people were killed and more than 160 were injured in days of clashes starting from 12 March. Kurdish sources indicated that Syrian security forces used live ammunition against civilians after clashes broke out at a football match between Kurdish fans of the local team and Arab supporters of a visiting team from the city of Deir al-Zor. The international press reported that nine people were killed on 12 March. According to Amnesty International hundreds of people, mostly Kurds, were arrested after the riots. Kurdish detainees were reportedly tortured and ill-treated. Some Kurdish students were expelled from their universities, reportedly for participating in peaceful protests.[74]

KNAS (Kurdnas) formation

The Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria was formed to represent Syrian Kurds based on two major conferences, one at the US Senate in March 2006 and the other at the EU parliament in Brussels in 2006. The Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNAS) seek democracy for Syria and granting rights to Kurds and other Syrian minorities. They seek to transform Syria into a federal state, with a democratic system and structure for the federal government and provincial governments.[citation needed]

Syrian Civil War

On 22 July 2012, Serê Kaniyê (Ra’s al-‘Ayn) pictured above and a series of other towns in the Kurdish inhabited northeast of Syria were captured by the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Following the Tunisian Revolution and the Egyptian Revolution, 4 February 2011 was declared a Day of Rage in Syria by activists through Facebook. Few turned out to protest, but among the few were Kurdish demonstrators in the northeast of the country.[75] On 7 October 2011, Kurdish leader Mashaal Tammo was gunned down in his apartment by masked men widely believed to be government agents. During Tammo’s funeral procession the next day in the town of Qamishli, Syrian security forces fired into a crowd of more than 50,000 mourners, killing five people.[76] According to Tammo’s son, Fares Tammo, “My father’s assassination is the screw in the regime’s coffin. They made a big mistake by killing my father.”[77] Since then, Kurdish demonstrations became a routine part of the Syrian uprising.[78] In June 2012, the Syrian National Council (SNC), the main opposition group, announced Abdulbaset Sieda, an ethnic Kurd, as their new leader.[79]

Kurdish rebellion

YPG‘s female units were fighting against ISIS in Syria

Protests in the Kurdish inhabited areas of Syria evolved into armed clashes after the opposition Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Kurdish National Council (KNC) signed a cooperation agreement on 12 July 2012 that created the Kurdish Supreme Committee as the governing body of all Kurdish controlled areas.[80][81][82]

Under the administration of the Kurdish Supreme Committee, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) were created to control the Kurdish inhabited areas in Syria. On 19 July, the YPG captured the city of Kobanê, and the next day captured Amûdê and Efrîn.[83] The KNC and PYD afterwards formed a joint leadership council to run the captured cities.[83] By 24 July, the Syrian Kurdish cities of Dêrika Hemko (Al-Malikiyah), Serê Kaniyê (Ra’s al-‘Ayn), Dirbêsî (Al-Darbasiyah) and Girkê Legê (Al-Ma’bada) had also come under the control of the People’s Protection Units. The only major Kurdish inhabited cities that remained under government control were Hasaka and Qamishli.[84][85]

In 2014, Kurds along with Assyrian and Arab populations in the region declared the cantons of CizîrêKobanê and Efrîn to be parts of autonomous Democratic Federation of Northern Syria.[citation needed]

Kurdish-inhabited Afrin Canton has been occupied by the Turkish Armed Forces and Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army since the Turkish military operation in Afrin in early 2018.[86] Between 150,000 and 200,000 people were displaced due to the Turkish intervention.[87]

Mistreatment by Syrian government

International and Kurdish human rights organizations have accused the Syrian government of discriminating against the Kurdish minority.[88][89][90] Amnesty International also reported that Kurdish human rights activists are mistreated and persecuted.[91]

Language

Geographic distribution of the Kurdish languages spoken by Kurds

The Kurdish language is the second most spoken language in Syria, after Arabic.[92]

The Kurds often speak the Kurdish language in public, unless all those present do not. According to the Human Rights Watch, Kurds in Syria are not allowed to officially use the Kurdish language, are not allowed to register children with Kurdish names, are prohibited to start businesses that do not have Arabic names, are not permitted to build Kurdish private schools, and are prohibited from publishing books and other materials written in Kurdish.[93][94] But this is no longer enforced due to the civil war.

There are also some “nawar people” (gypsies) who speak Kurdish and call themselves Kurds in some regions.[95]

Citizenship

In 1962, 20 percent of Syria’s Kurdish population were stripped of their Syrian citizenship following a very highly controversial census raising concerns among human rights groups. According to the Syrian government, the reason for this enactment was due to groups of Kurds infiltrating the Al-Hasakah Governorate in 1945. The Syrian government claims that the Kurds came from neighboring countries, especially Turkey, and crossed into Syrian borders illegally. The government claims that these Kurds settled down, gradually, in the region in cities like Amuda and Qamishli until they accounted for the majority in some of these cities. The government also claims that many Kurds were capable of registering themselves illegally in the Syrian civil registers. The government further speculated that Kurds intended to settle down and acquire property, especially after the issue of the agricultural reform law, in order to benefit from land redistribution.[93] However, according to Human Rights Watch, the Syrian government falsely claimed that many of the Kurds who were the original inhabitants of the land were foreigners, and in turn, violated their human rights by stripping them of their Syrian citizenship.[96]

The flag of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria

As a result of government claims of an increase in illegal immigration, the Syrian government decided to conduct a general census on 5 October 1962 in the governorate with claims that its sole purpose was to purify registers and eliminate the alien infiltrators. As a result, the verified registrations of the citizens of Syria were included in the new civil registers. The remaining, which included 100,000 Kurds, were registered as foreigners (or “ajanib”) in special registers.[93][97] Many others did not participate in the census through choice or other circumstances; they are known as “maktoumeen”, meaning “unrecorded”.[97] Since then, the number of stateless Kurds has grown to more than 200,000.[98] According to Refugees International, there are about 300,000 non-citizens Kurds in Syria; however, Kurds dispute this number and estimate about 500,000. A recent independent report has confirmed that there are at least 300,000 non-citizen Kurds living in Syria.[97]

According to the Human Rights Watch, by many accounts, the special census was carried out in an arbitrary manner separating members of the same families and classifying them differently. HRW claims that some Kurds in the same family became citizens while others became foreigners suggesting an inaccuracy in the Syrian government’s process; HRW also alleges that some of the Kurds who had served in the Syrian army lost citizenship while those who bribed officials kept theirs.[96] Stateless Kurds also do not have the option of legally relocating to another country because they lack passports or other internationally recognized travel documents. In Syria, other than in the governorate of Al-Hasakah, foreigners cannot be employed at government agencies and state-owned enterprises; they may not legally marry Syrian citizens. Kurds with foreigner status do not have the right to vote in elections or run for public office, and when they attend universities they are often persecuted and cannot be awarded with university degrees.[97] non-citizens Kurds living in Syria are not awarded school certificates and are often unable to travel outside of their provinces.[97]

In April 2011, the President signed Decree 49 which provides citizenship for Kurds who were registered as foreigners in Hasaka.[99] However, a recent independent report has suggested that the actual number of non-citizens Kurds who obtained their national ID cards following the decree does not exceed 6,000, leaving the remainder of 300,000 non-citizens Kurds living in Syria in a state of uncertainty.[97] One newly nationalized Kurd has been reported as saying: ‘I’m pleased to have my ID card …. But not until the process is completed will I truly trust the intentions of this action. Before my card is activated, I must have an interview, no doubt full of interrogation and intimidation, with State Security. Citizenship should not be a privilege. It is my right.’[97] According to one researcher, the Kurdish street perceived the measure of providing citizenship as ‘not well-intentioned, but simply an attempt to distance Kurds from the developing protest movement of the Syrian Revolution.’[100]

Influential Syrian Kurds

Politicians

Singers

Authors

Scholars

Actors

Sports

See also

References…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurds_in_Syria

Story 2: United States and North Korea Talks Broken Down For Now — Videos

See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

U.S.-North Korea nuclear talks break down

North Korea ends nuclear talks with US in Sweden

North Korea-U.S. working-level talks to resume in Stockholm Saturday

North Korea says it WILL NOT meet US for more ‘sickening negotiations’ about its nuclear program until Washington abandons its ‘hostile policy’ after talks break down

  • North Korea ended nuclear talks with US hours after they started in Sweden 
  • Announcement made by North’s chief negotiator outside Stockholm embassy 
  • Pyongyang said on Sunday it won’t meet US for more ‘sickening negotiations’ 
  • North says US ‘has not discarded its old stance and attitude’
  • Saturday’s talks were first since Trump and Kim met in Hanoi in February
  • Those negotiations ended over disagreements about sanctions relief for North

North Korea said Sunday that it won’t meet with the United States for more ‘sickening negotiations’ unless it abandons its ‘hostile policy’ against the North, as the two countries offered different takes on their weekend nuclear talks in Sweden.

After their first talks in more than seven months in Stockholm on Saturday, the chief North Korean nuclear negotiator said the discussions broke down ‘entirely because the US has not discarded its old stance and attitude’ and came to the negotiating table with an ’empty hand.’

But the US said the two sides had ‘good discussions’ that it intends to build on with more talks in two weeks.

North Korean negotiator Kim Miyong Gil reads a statement outside the North Korean Embassy in Stockholm on Saturday announcing the end of nuclear negotiations with the United States

North Korean negotiator Kim Miyong Gil reads a statement outside the North Korean Embassy in Stockholm on Saturday announcing the end of nuclear negotiations with the United States

Nuclear talks break down between US and North Korea

On Sunday night, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement accusing the US of trying to mislead the public and ‘spreading a completely ungrounded story that both sides are open to meet’ again.

The statement said the Stockholm talks ‘made us think they have no political will to improve (North Korea)-US relations and may be abusing the bilateral relations for their own partisan interests’ at home.

It said North Korea isn’t willing to hold ‘such sickening negotiations’ as those in Stockholm until the US takes ‘a substantial step to make complete and irreversible withdrawal of the hostile policy toward’ the North.

The statement didn’t say which US policies it was referring to.

But North Korea has previously accused the United States of plotting an invasion of the country and maintained that US-led sanctions against the North are stifling its economy.

Kim Myong Gil, the main North Korean negotiator at the Stockholm talks, said that since the first summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June 2018, the US has been threatening his country with fresh unilateral sanctions and military exercises with South Korea.

But many foreign experts doubt whether North Korea would completely abandon a nuclear program that it has built after decades of struggle.

Trump (left) and North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un are seen at the village of Panmunjon in the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea in June. The two leaders have failed to make progress in talks on denuclearization and sanctions relief

Trump (left) and North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un are seen at the village of Panmunjon in the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea in June. The two leaders have failed to make progress in talks on denuclearization and sanctions relief

Before the Singapore talks, North Korea had long said it would denuclearize only if the US withdraws its 28,500 troops from South Korea, ends military drills with the South and takes other steps to guarantee the North’s security.

Saturday’s talks were the first between the sides since the second Trump-Kim summit in Vietnam in February collapsed due to squabbling over how much sanctions relief should be given to North Korea in return for dismantling its main nuclear complex.

The two leaders held a brief, impromptu meeting at the Korean border in late June and agreed to restart diplomacy.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the chief North Korean negotiator’s comments about Saturday’s talks did ‘not reflect the content or the spirit’ of the ‘good discussions’ that took place over 8 ½ hours.

She said the US delegation ‘previewed a number of new initiatives that would allow us to make progress in each of the four pillars’ of a joint statement issued after Trump and Kim’s first summit in Singapore in June 2018.

Ortagus also said the US accepted an invitation from Sweden to return to Stockholm in two weeks to continue talks.

Because the US does not have official diplomatic relations with North Korea, Sweden has often acted as a bridge between Washington and Pyongyang.

Kim Myong Gil, the North Korean negotiator, said the North proposed a suspension of talks until December.

Pyongyang tested what it called a 'super-large' rocket on Wednesday just hours after it said it was willing to resume working-level talks with Washington

He said North Korea also made it clear that the two countries can discuss the North’s next denuclearization steps if the United States ‘sincerely responds’ to previous measures taken by Pyongyang, including the suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests and the closing of its underground nuclear testing site.

North Korea has demanded the United States come up with mutually acceptable proposals to salvage the nuclear diplomacy by the end of this year.

Kim Myong Gil said whether North Korea will lift its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests is completely up to the United States.

‘The fate of the future (North Korea)-US dialogue depends on the US attitude, and the end of this year is its deadline,’ the North Korean Foreign Ministry statement said.

 

 

North Korea decries breakdown of talks US says were ‘good’

By JARI TANNER and MATTHEW LEE

FILE- In this June 30, 2019, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the North Korean side of the border at the village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone. North Korea’s chief negotiator says discussions with the U.S. on Pyongyang’s nuclear program have broken down, but Washington says the two sides had “good discussions” that it intends to build on in two weeks. The North Korean negotiator, Kim Miyong Gil, said Saturday, Oct. 5, talks in Stockholm broke down “entirely because the U.S. has not discarded its old stance and attitude.” (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

HELSINKI (AP) — North Korea’s chief negotiator said Saturday that discussions with the U.S. on Pyongyang’s nuclear program have broken down, but Washington said the two sides had “good discussions” that it intends to build on in two weeks.

The North Korean negotiator, Kim Miyong Gil, said the talks in Stockholm had “not fulfilled our expectations and broke down. I am very displeased about it.” Speaking outside the North Korean Embassy, he read a statement in Korean that a translator next to him read in English.

Kim said negotiations broke down “entirely because the U.S. has not discarded its old stance and attitude.”

Saturday’s talks were the first between the U.S. and North Korea since the February breakdown of the second summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in Vietnam.

North Korea has since resumed missile tests, including an underwater-launched missile that fell inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone Wednesday.

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Kim’s comments did “not reflect the content or the spirit” of the “good discussions” that took place over eight-and-a-half hours, adding that the U.S. accepted an invitation from Sweden to return to Stockholm in two weeks to continue discussions.

In a statement, Ortagus said the U.S. delegation “previewed a number of new initiatives that would allow us to make progress in each of the four pillars” of a joint statement issued after Trump and Kim’s first summit in Singapore.

“The United States and the DPRK will not overcome a legacy of 70 years of war and hostility on the Korean Peninsula through the course of a single Saturday,” Ortagus said

Talks were held at the Villa Elfvik Strand conference facility in Lidingo, an island in the Stockholm archipelago located northeast of the capital, Swedish news agency TT said. It added that Kim Miyong Gil arrived on Thursday while U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun came on Friday.

Because the U.S. does not have official diplomatic relations with North Korea, Sweden has often acted as a bridge between Washington and Pyongyang.

___

Matthew Lee reported from Athens, Greece.

https://apnews.com/c66474b67b3e41cdad6d21ba3385ddc2

 

Story 3: The 33 Year Illegal Alien Invasion of the United Continued in Fiscal Year 2019 with Apprehensions Hitting 851,000 — Videos

 

Apprehensions at the Arizona border highest they’ve been in 12 years

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Most illegal crossings in 12 years: Border Patrol took 851,000 into custody during fiscal 2019

But the 40,000 people taken into custody in September is less than one-third of the 132,000 arrests made in May at the height of a surge of illegal immigrants.

Roughly 40,000 people were apprehended after crossing into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California during the month of September. That number was added to the previous 11 months to bring fiscal 2019, which ran Oct. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, to slightly more than 851,000 arrests. Those arrested for illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico may have claimed asylum once in custody, but that figure is not released by the government each month.

The 851,000 arrested at the southern border does not include the number of people who approached ports of entry, or border crossings, to claim asylum or pass through but were turned away. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Homeland Security agency that oversees these figures, is expected to release this and related data in a few weeks.

Pete Buttigieg fails his way to political stardom

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As of Aug. 31, another 263,000 people were encountered at ports by the Office of Field Operations, a component of CBP. Border Patrol agents are stationed on the land between ports of entry while field operations officers stay at ports. These people are not arrested but are simply denied entry.

These numbers do not include additional arrests and denied port crossers at the U.S.-Canada border and along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, nor does it include the September figure for those encountered at the ports.

CBP uses the number of people encountered at the border as an indicator of how many people tried to illegally enter the country, since some of those who illegally cross avoid detection or do not surrender for the sake of claiming asylum.

Along the U.S.-Mexico border, more than 250,000 Guatemalans and 250,000 Hondurans were apprehended.

The biggest change in fiscal 2019 compared to the Border Patrol’s previous 95 years was the number of families who arrived. In 2015, fewer than 80,000 people who arrived with a family member were among those apprehended by the Border Patrol. As of Aug. 31, more than 450,000 people who arrived with a family member were taken into custody.

Arrests of people entering without documentation has slowly ticked up from about 300,000 in 1970 to between an average of 1 million and 1.5 million each year from the mid-1980s through 2006, according to Border Patrol data.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/most-illegal-crossings-in-12-years-border-patrol-took-851-000-into-custody-during-fiscal-2019

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1329, September 27, 2019, Story 1: National Chocolate Milk Day — Videos — Story 2: Stopping Nuclear Proliferation — Videos — Story 3: Trump Administration Will Appeal Ruling Barring Indefinite Detention of Illegal Alien Families Thus Ending Catch and Release Under The Flores Agreement — Democrats Want The Invasion of United States To Continue and Citizenship For All Illegal Aliens That Reach The United States — The Majority of American People Want Immigration Laws Enforced and Deportation of All 30-60 Millions Illegal Aliens — American People vs. The REDS (Radical Extremist Democrat Socialists) — Videos —

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Story 1: National Chocolate Milk Day — Videos

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NATIONAL CHOCOLATE MILK DAY – September 27

NATIONAL CHOCOLATE MILK DAY

Across the country, folks enjoy a tall, frosty glass on National Chocolate Milk Day, which is observed annually on September 27. 

In the late 1680s, an Irish-born physician by the name of Sir Hans Sloane invented the chocolatey beverage. When offered the position of personal physician to an English Duke in Jamaica, Sloane jumped at the opportunity. Jamaica interested the naturalist in him.

While in Jamaica, Sloane encountered a local beverage. The locals mixed cocoa and water together.  However, when Sloane tasted it, he reported the flavor to be nauseating. After some experimentation, the doctor found a way to combine cocoa with milk. The creamy combination made it a more pleasant-tasting drink. Years later, Sloane returned to England with the chocolate recipe in hand. Initially, apothecaries introduced the concoction as a medicine.

Generations later, chocolate milk lovers enjoy their treat a variety of ways.  It can be purchased premixed by the jug or individual serving. For a custom mix, powders and syrups allow us to make it as chocolatey as we like at home.

HOW TO OBSERVE #ChocolateMilkDay

Do you use powder, premix or syrup? Today we even have skim, 2% and whole milk. Which do you prefer? Mix up some chocolate milk to drink. Invite a friend to enjoy the celebration with you. Besides, the best way to #CelebrateEveryDay is with others. Share your celebration using #ChocolateMilkDay on social media.

Educators, visit the National Day Calendar® classroom for ways to incorporate this day into your classes.

NATIONAL CHOCOLATE MILK DAY HISTORY

National Day Calendar® continues researching the origins of this sweet beverage holiday.

There are over 1,500 national days. Don’t miss a single one. Celebrate Every Day® with National Day Calendar®!

 

National Chocolate Day

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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There are a variety of dates that have been designated as “Chocolate Day” around the world. The most commonly accepted such date is July 7.[citation needed] Various Chocolate Days have been called Local, National or International/World, including conflicting claims.[citation needed]

The U.S. National Confectioners Association lists four primary chocolate holidays on their calendar[1][improper synthesis?] (Chocolate Day (July 7), two National Chocolate Days (October 28 and December 28), and International Chocolate Day (September 13)[2]), in addition to variants such as National Milk Chocolate Day, National White Chocolate Day, and National Cocoa Day.

International Chocolate Day coincides with the birth date of Milton S. Hershey (September 13, 1857),[3][4][5] founder of The Hershey Chocolate Company.

See also

References

  1. ^ “Candy Holidays”National Confectioners Association. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  2. ^ “Reasons to celebrate chocolate in September”National Confectioners Association. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  3. ^ “Milton Hershey Biography”Biography.com. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  4. ^ September 2008 dates to celebrateCreative Forecasting20 (7–12): 6. Retrieved 7 July 2014International Chocolate Day – This day celebrates the birth anniversary of Milton Hershey (1857 – 1945)
  5. ^ “Milton Hershey: Happy Birthday”. The Hershey Company. Retrieved 2 October 2017.

Further reading

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Chocolate_Day

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Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

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Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles
Gorbachev and Reagan sign the INF Treaty.

Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan sign the INF Treaty.
Type Nuclear disarmament
Signed 8 December 1987, 1:45 p.m.[1]
Location White HouseWashington, D.C.
Effective 1 June 1988
Condition Ratification by the Soviet Union and United States
Expiration 1 February 2019
Signatories
Languages English and Russian
Text of the INF Treaty

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty, formally Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range MissilesRussianДоговор о ликвидации ракет средней и меньшей дальности / ДРСМД, Dogovor o likvidatsiy raket sredney i menshey dalnosti / DRSMD) was an arms control treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union (and its successor state, the Russian Federation). US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev signed the treaty on 8 December 1987.[1][2] The United States Senate approved the treaty on 27 May 1988, and Reagan and Gorbachev ratified it on 1 June 1988.[2][3]

The INF Treaty banned all of the two nations’ land-based ballistic missilescruise missiles, and missile launchers with ranges of 500–1,000 kilometers (310–620 mi) (short medium-range) and 1,000–5,500 km (620–3,420 mi) (intermediate-range). The treaty did not apply to air- or sea-launched missiles.[4][5] By May 1991, the nations had eliminated 2,692 missiles, followed by 10 years of on-site verification inspections.[6]

Amidst continuing growth of China’s missile forces, US President Donald Trump announced on 20 October 2018 that he was withdrawing the US from the treaty, accusing Russia of non-compliance.[7][8] The US formally suspended the treaty on 1 February 2019,[9] and Russia did so on the following day in response.[10] The US formally withdrew from the treaty on 2 August 2019.[11] On September 4, 2019, President Putin stated that Russia will make new missiles but will not deploy them until the United States does so first. [12]

Contents

Background

In March 1976, the Soviet Union first deployed the RSD-10 Pioneer (called SS-20 Saber in the West) in its European territories, a mobile, concealable intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) with a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) containing three nuclear 150-kiloton warheads.[13] The SS-20’s range of 4,700–5,000 kilometers (2,900–3,100 mi) was great enough to reach Western Europe from well within Soviet territory; the range was just below the SALT II minimum range for an intercontinental ballistic missile, 5,500 km (3,400 mi).[14][15][16] The SS-20 replaced aging Soviet systems of the SS-4 Sandal and SS-5 Skean, which were seen to pose a limited threat to Western Europe due to their poor accuracy, limited payload (one warhead), lengthy preparation time, difficulty in being concealed, and immobility (thus exposing them to pre-emptive NATO strikes ahead of a planned attack).[17] Whereas the SS-4 and SS-5 were seen as defensive weapons, the SS-20 was seen as a potential offensive system.[18]

The US, then under President Jimmy Carter, initially considered its strategic nuclear weapons and nuclear-capable aircraft to be adequate counters to the SS-20 and a sufficient deterrent against possible Soviet aggression. In 1977, however, Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of West Germany argued in a speech that a Western response to the SS-20 deployment should be explored, a call which was echoed by NATO, given a perceived Western disadvantage in European nuclear forces.[16] Leslie H. Gelb, the US Assistant Secretary of State, later recounted that Schmidt’s speech pressured the US into developing a response.[19]

SS-20 launchers

On 12 December 1979, following European pressure for a response to the SS-20, Western foreign and defense ministers meeting in Brussels made the NATO Double-Track Decision.[16] The ministers argued that the Warsaw Pact had “developed a large and growing capability in nuclear systems that directly threaten Western Europe”: “theater” nuclear systems (i.e., tactical nuclear weapons).[20] In describing this “aggravated” situation, the ministers made direct reference to the SS-20 featuring “significant improvements over previous systems in providing greater accuracy, more mobility, and greater range, as well as having multiple warheads”. The ministers also attributed the altered situation to the deployment of the Soviet Tupolev Tu-22M strategic bomber, which they believed to display “much greater performance” than its predecessors. Furthermore, the ministers expressed concern that the Soviet Union had gained an advantage over NATO in “Long-Range Theater Nuclear Forces” (LRTNF), and also significantly increased short-range theater nuclear capacity.[21]

To address these developments, the ministers adopted two policy “tracks” which Joseph Stalin had created in 1941. One thousand theater nuclear warheads, out of 7,400 such warheads, would be removed from Europe and the US would pursue bilateral negotiations with the Soviet Union intended to limit theater nuclear forces. Should these negotiations fail, NATO would modernize its own LRTNF, or intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF), by replacing US Pershing 1a missiles with 108 Pershing II launchers in West Germany and deploying 464 BGM-109G Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCMs) to BelgiumItaly, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom beginning in December 1983.[15][22][23][24]

Negotiations

Early negotiations: 1981–1983

The Soviet Union and United States agreed to open negotiations and preliminary discussions, named the Preliminary Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Talks,[15] which began in GenevaSwitzerland, in October 1980. On 20 January 1981, Ronald Reagan was sworn into office as President after defeating Jimmy Carter in an election. Formal talks began on 30 November 1981, with the US then led by Ronald Reagan and the Soviet Union by Leonid Brezhnev. The core of the US negotiating position reflected the principles put forth under Carter: any limits placed on US INF capabilities, both in terms of “ceilings” and “rights”, must be reciprocated with limits on Soviet systems. Additionally, the US insisted that a sufficient verification regime be in place.[25]

Paul Nitze, 1983

Paul Nitze, a longtime hand at defense policy who had participated in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), led the US delegation after being recruited by Secretary of State Alexander Haig. Though Nitze had backed the first SALT treaty, he opposed SALT II and had resigned from the US delegation during its negotiation. Nitze was also then a member of the Committee on the Present Danger, a firmly anti-Soviet group composed of neoconservatives and conservative Republicans.[19][26] Yuli Kvitsinsky, the well-respected second-ranking official at the Soviet embassy in West Germany, headed the Soviet delegation.[18][27][28][29]

On 18 November 1981, shortly before the beginning of formal talks, Reagan made the Zero Option proposal (or the “zero-zero” proposal).[30] The plan called for a hold on US deployment of GLCM and Pershing II systems, reciprocated by Soviet elimination of its SS-4, SS-5, and SS-20 missiles. There appeared to be little chance of the Zero Option being adopted, but the gesture was well received in the European public. In February 1982, US negotiators put forth a draft treaty containing the Zero Option and a global prohibition on intermediate- and short-range missiles, with compliance ensured via a stringent, though unspecific, verification program.[27]

Opinion within the Reagan administration on the Zero Option was mixed. Richard Perle, then the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs, was the architect of the plan. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, who supported a continued US nuclear presence in Europe, was skeptical of the plan, though eventually accepted it for its value in putting the Soviet Union “on the defensive in the European propaganda war”. Reagan later recounted that the “zero option sprang out of the realities of nuclear politics in Western Europe”.[30] The Soviet Union rejected the plan shortly after the US tabled it in February 1982, arguing that both the US and Soviet Union should be able to retain intermediate-range missiles in Europe. Specifically, Soviet negotiators proposed that the number of INF missiles and aircraft deployed in Europe by one side be capped at 600 by 1985 and 300 by 1990. Concerned that this proposal would force the US to withdraw aircraft from Europe and not deploy INF missiles, given US cooperation with existing British and French deployments, the US proposed “equal rights and limits”—the US would be permitted to match Soviet SS-20 deployments.[27]

Between 1981 and 1983, US and Soviet negotiators gathered for six rounds of talks, each two months in length—a system based on the earlier SALT talks.[27] The US delegation was composed of Nitze, General William F. Burns of the Joint Chiefs of StaffThomas Graham of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), and officials from the US Department of StateOffice of the Secretary of Defense, and US National Security Council. Colonel Norman Clyne, a SALT participant, served as Nitze’s chief of staff.[18][31]

There was little convergence between the two sides over these two years. A US effort to separate the question of nuclear-capable aircraft from that of intermediate-range missiles successfully focused attention on the latter, but little clear progress on the subject was made. In the summer of 1982, Nitze and Kvitsinsky took a “walk in the woods” in the Jura Mountains, away from formal negotiations in Geneva, in an independent attempt to bypass bureaucratic procedures and break the negotiating deadlock.[32][18][33] Nitze later said that his and Kvitsinsky’s goal was to agree to certain concessions that would allow for a summit meeting between Brezhnev and Reagan later in 1982.[34]

Protest in Amsterdam against the nuclear arms race between the US/NATO and the Soviet Union

Nitze’s offer to Kvitsinsky was that the US would forego deployment of the Pershing II and continue deployment of GLCMs, but limited to 75 missile launchers. The Soviet Union, in return, would also have to limit itself to 75 intermediate-range missile launchers in Europe and 90 in Asia. Due to each GLCM launcher containing four GLCMs and each SS-20 launcher containing three warheads, such an agreement would have resulted in the US having 75 more intermediate-range warheads in Europe than the Soviet Union, though SS-20s were seen as more advanced and maneuverable than GLCMs. While Kvitsinsky was skeptical that the plan would be well received in Moscow, Nitze was optimistic about its chances in Washington.[34] The deal ultimately found little traction in either capital. In the US, the Office of the Secretary of Defense opposed Nitze’s proposal, as it opposed any proposal that would allow the Soviet Union to deploy missiles to Europe while blocking US deployments. Nitze’s proposal was relayed by Kvitsinsky to Moscow, where it was also rejected. The plan accordingly was never introduced into formal negotiations.[32][18]

Thomas Graham, a US negotiator, later recalled that Nitze’s “walk in the woods” proposal was primarily of Nitze’s own design and known beforehand only to William F. Burns, another arms control negotiator and representative of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and Eugene V. Rostow, the director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. In a National Security Council meeting following the Nitze-Kvitsinsky walk, the proposal was received positively by the JCS and Reagan. Following protests by Richard Perle, working within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Reagan informed Nitze that he would not back the plan. The State Department, then led by Alexander Haig, also indicated that it would not support Nitze’s plan and preferred a return to the Zero Option proposal.[18][33][34] Nitze argued that one positive consequence of the walk in the woods was that the European public, which had doubted US interest in arms control, became convinced that the US was participating in the INF negotiations in good faith.[34]

In early 1983, US negotiators indicated that they would support a plan beyond the Zero Option if the plan established equal rights and limits for the US and Soviet Union, with such limits valid worldwide, and excluded British and French missile systems (as well as those of any other third party). As a temporary measure, the US negotiators also proposed a cap of 450 deployed INF warheads around the world for both the US and Soviet Union. In response, Soviet negotiators expressed that a plan would have to block all US INF deployments in Europe, cover both missiles and aircraft, include third parties, and focus primarily on Europe for it to gain Soviet backing. In the fall of 1983, just ahead of the scheduled deployment of US Pershing IIs and GLCMs, the US lowered its proposed limit on global INF deployments to 420 missiles, while the Soviet Union proposed “equal reductions”: if the US cancelled the planned deployment of Pershing II and GLCM systems, the Soviet Union would reduce its own INF deployment by 572 warheads. In November 1983, after the first Pershing IIs arrived in West Germany, the Soviet Union walked out of negotiations, as it had warned it would do should the US missile deployments occur.[35]

Restarted negotiations: 1985–1987

Reagan and Gorbachev shake hands after signing the INF Treaty ratification during the Moscow Summit on 1 June 1988.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher played a key role in brokering the negotiations between Reagan and Gorbachev in 1986 to 1987.[36]

In March 1986, negotiations between the US and the Soviet Union resumed, covering not only the INF issue, but also separate discussions on strategic weapons (START I) and space issues (Nuclear and Space Talks). In late 1985, both sides were moving towards limiting INF systems in Europe and Asia. On 15 January 1986, Gorbachev announced a Soviet proposal for a ban on all nuclear weapons by 2000, which included INF missiles in Europe. This was dismissed by the US and countered with a phased reduction of INF launchers in Europe and Asia to none by 1989. There would be no constraints on British and French nuclear forces.[37]

A series of meetings in August and September 1986 culminated in the Reykjavík Summit between Reagan and Gorbachev on 11 and 12 October 1986. Both agreed in principle to remove INF systems from Europe and to equal global limits of 100 INF missile warheads. Gorbachev also proposed deeper and more fundamental changes in the strategic relationship. More detailed negotiations extended throughout 1987, aided by the decision of West Germany Chancellor Helmut Kohl in August to unilaterally remove the joint US-West German Pershing 1a systems. Initially, Kohl had opposed the total elimination of the Pershing Missiles, claiming that such a move would increase his nation’s vulnerability to an attack by Warsaw Pact Forces.[38] The treaty text was finally agreed in September 1987. On 8 December 1987, the Treaty was officially signed by President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev at a summit in Washington and ratified the following May in a 93-5 vote by the United States Senate.[39][40]

Contents

The treaty prohibits both parties from possessing, producing, or flight-testing ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500–5,000 km. Possessing or producing ground-based launchers of those missiles is also prohibited. The ban extends to weapons with both nuclear and conventional warheads, but does not cover air-delivered or sea-based missiles.[41]

Existing weapons had to be destroyed, and a protocol for mutual inspection was agreed upon.[41]

Each party has the right to withdraw from the treaty with six months’ notice, “if it decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this Treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests”.[41]

Timeline

Implementation[edit]

A Soviet inspector examines a BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missile in 1988 prior to its destruction.

Accompanied by their NATO counterparts, Soviet inspectors enter a nuclear weapons storage area at Greenham Common, UK, 1989.

By the treaty’s deadline of 1 June 1991, a total of 2,692 of such weapons had been destroyed, 846 by the US and 1,846 by the Soviet Union.[42] The following specific missiles, their launcher systems, and their transporter vehicles were destroyed:[43]

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the United States considered twelve of the post-Soviet states to be inheritors of the treaty obligations (the three Baltic states are considered to preexist their annexation by the Soviet Union). Of the six having inspectable INF facilities on their territories, BelarusKazakhstan, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine became active participants in the treaty process, while Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, having less significant INF sites, assumed a less active role.[44]

As provided by the treaty, onsite inspections ended in 2001. After that time, compliance was checked primarily by satellites.[45]

Initial skepticism and allegations of treaty violations

In February 2007, the Russian president Vladimir Putin gave a speech at the Munich Security Conference in which he said the INF Treaty should be revisited to ensure security, as it only restricted Russia and the US but not other countries.[46] The Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Yuri Baluyevsky contemporaneously said that Russia was planning to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty in response to deployment of adaptable defensive NATO missile system and because other countries were not bound to the treaty.[47]

According to US officials, Russia violated the treaty by testing the SSC-8 cruise missile in 2008.[48] Russia rejected the claim that their SSC-8 missiles violates the treaty, and says that the SSC-8 can travel only up to a maximum of 480 km.[49] In 2013, reports came out that Russia had tested and planned to continue testing two missiles in ways that could violate the terms of the treaty: the SS-25 road mobile intercontinental ballistic missile and the newer RS-26 ICBM.[50] The US representatives briefed NATO on a Russian nuclear treaty breach again in 2014[51][52] and 2017,[48][53] and in 2018, NATO formally supported the US accusations and accused Russia of breaking the treaty.[11][54] Russia denied the accusation and Putin said it was a pretext for the US to leave the pact.[11] A BBC analysis of the meeting that culminated in the NATO statement said that “NATO allies here share Washington’s concerns and have backed the US position, thankful perhaps that it includes this short grace period during which Russia might change its mind.”[55]

In 2011, Dan Blumenthal of the American Enterprise Institute wrote that the actual Russian problem with the INF was that China is not bound by it and continued to build up their own intermediate-range forces.[56]

According to Russian officials and academic Theodore Postol, the American decision to deploy the missile defense system in Europe was a violation of the treaty as they claim they could be quickly retrofitted with offensive capabilities;[57][58][59] this accusation has in turn been rejected by US and NATO officials and analyst Jeffrey Lewis.[59][60] Russian experts also stated that the US usage of target missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, such as the MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-4, violated the INF Treaty[61] which has also in turn been rejected by US officials.[62]

US withdrawal and termination

The United States declared its intention to withdraw from the treaty on 20 October 2018.[7][63][64] Donald Trump mentioned at a campaign rally that the reason for the pullout was because “they’ve [Russia has] been violating it for many years”.[63] This prompted Putin to state that Russia would not launch first in a nuclear conflict but would “annihilate” any adversary, essentially re-stating the policy of “Mutually Assured Destruction“. Putin claimed Russians killed in such a conflict “will go to heaven as martyrs”.[65]

It was also reported that the United States’ need to counter a Chinese arms buildup in the Pacific, including within South China Sea, was another reason for their move to withdraw, because China is not a signatory to the treaty.[7][63][64] US officials extending back to the Obama period have noted this. For example, Kelly Magsamen, who helped craft the Pentagon’s Asian policy under the Obama administration, said China’s ability to work outside of the INF treaty had vexed policymakers in Washington, long before Trump came into office.[66] A Politico article noted the different responses US officials gave to this issue: “either find ways to bring China into the treaty or develop new American weapons to counter it” or “negotiating a new treaty with that country”.[67] The deployment since 2016 of the DF-26 missile system with a range of 4,000 km meant that US forces as far as Guam can be threatened.[66] The United States Secretary of Defense at the time, Jim Mattis, was quoted stating that “the Chinese are stockpiling missiles because they’re not bound by it at all”.[7] Bringing an ascendant China into the treaty, or into a new comprehensive treaty including other nuclear powers, was further complicated by relationships between China, India and Pakistan.[68]

John R. Bolton holds a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow on 23 October 2018

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said a unilateral US withdrawal would have a negative impact and urged the US to “think thrice before acting”. John R. BoltonUS National Security Advisor, said on Echo of Moscow that recent Chinese statements indicate that it wants Washington to stay in the treaty, while China itself is not bound in a treaty.[66] It’s been estimated that 90% of China’s ground missile arsenal would be outlawed if China were a party to the treaty.[67] Bolton said in an interview with Elena Chernenko from the Russian newspaper Kommersant on 22 October 2018: “we see China, IranNorth Korea all developing capabilities which would violate the treaty if they were parties to it. So the possibility that could have existed fifteen years ago to enlarge the treaty and make it universal today just simply was not practical.”[69]

On 26 October 2018, Russia called but lost a vote to get the UN General Assembly to consider calling on Washington and Moscow to preserve and strengthen the treaty.[70] Russia had proposed a draft resolution in the 193-member General Assembly’s disarmament committee, but missed the 18 October submission deadline[70] so it instead called for a vote on whether the committee should be allowed to consider the draft.[70] On the same day, John R. Bolton said in an interview with Reuters that the INF Treaty was a cold war relic and he wanted to hold strategic talks with Russia about Chinese missile capabilities.[71] China has been suggested to be “the real target of the [pull out]”.[67]

Four days later, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia to comply with the treaty at a news conference in Norway saying “The problem is the deployment of new Russian missiles”.[72]

Russian president Vladimir Putin announced on 20 November 2018 that the Kremlin was prepared to discuss INF with Washington but would “retaliate” if the United States withdrew.[73]

Starting on 4 December 2018, the United States said Russia had 60 days to comply with the treaty.[74] On 5 December 2018, Russia responded by revealing their Peresvet combat laser, stating they had been deployed to Russia armed forces as early as 2017 “as part of the state procurement program”.[75]

Russia presented the 9M729 (SSC-8) missile and its technical parameters to foreign military attachés at a military briefing on 23 January 2019, held in what it said was an exercise in transparency it hoped would persuade Washington to stay in the treaty.[76] The Russian Defence Ministry said diplomats from the United States, Britain, France and Germany had been invited to attend the static display of the missile, but they declined to attend.[76] The United States had previously rejected a Russian offer to do so because it said such an exercise would not allow it to verify the true range of its warheads.[76]

The summit between US and Russia on 30 January 2019 failed to find a way to preserve the treaty.[77]

The United States suspended its compliance with the INF Treaty on 2 February 2019 following an announcement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the day prior. In addition the US said there was a six-month timeline for full withdrawal and INF Treaty termination if the Russian Federation did not come back into compliance within those six months given.[78][68] The same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia had also suspended the INF Treaty in a ‘mirror response’ to President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend the treaty, effective that day.[10] The next day, Russia started work on new intermediate range (ballistic) hypersonic missiles along with land based (club kalibr – biryuza) systems (both nuclear armed) in response to the USA announcing it would start to conduct research and development of weapons prohibited under the treaty.[79]

Following the six-month period from 2 February suspension from INF, the United States administration formally announced it had withdrawn from the treaty on 2 August 2019. According to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “Russia is solely responsible for the treaty’s demise”.[80] While formally ratifying a treaty requires two-thirds of the Senate to ratify, a number of presidential decisions during the 20th and 21st centuries have set a common legal ground that the President and executive branch can unilaterally withdraw from a treaty without congressional approval, as Congress has rarely acted to stop such actions.[81] On the same day of the withdrawal, the United States Department of Defense announced plans to test a new type of missile, one that would have violated the treaty, from an eastern NATO base. Military leaders stated the need for this new missile as to stay ahead of both Russia and China, in response to Russia’s continued violations.[80]

The US’s withdrawal was backed by several of its NATO allies, citing the years of Russia’s non-compliance with the INF treaty.[80] In response to the withdrawal, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov invited the US and NATO “to assess the possibility of declaring the same moratorium on deploying intermediate-range and shorter-range equipment as we have, the same moratorium Vladimir Putin declared, saying that Russia will refrain from deploying these systems when we acquire them unless the American equipment is deployed in certain regions.”[80] This moratorium request was rejected by Stoltenberg who said that it was not credible as Moscow had already deployed such warheads.[82] On August 5, 2019, Russian president Vladimir Putin stated, “As of August 2, 2019 the INF Treaty no longer exists. Our US colleagues sent it to the archives, making it a thing of the past.”[83]

United States test firing a conventionally configured ground-launched medium-range cruise missile on 18 August 2019

On 18 August 2019, the United States conducted a test firing of a missile that would not have been allowed under the treaty.[84][85] The Pentagon said that the data collected and lessons learned from this test would inform its future development of intermediate-range capabilities while the Russian foreign ministry said that it was a cause for regret, and accused the US of escalating military tensions.[84][85]

Reactions to the withdrawal

Numerous prominent nuclear arms control experts, including George ShultzRichard Lugar and Sam Nunn, urged Trump to preserve the treaty.[86] Mikhail Gorbachev commented that Trump’s nuclear treaty withdrawal is “not the work of a great mind” and that “a new arms race has been announced”.[87][88]

The decision was criticized by chairmen of the United States House of Representatives Committees on Foreign Affairs and Armed Services who said that instead of crafting a plan to hold Russia accountable and pressure it into compliance, the Trump administration has offered Putin an easy way out of the treaty and has played right into his hands.[89] Similar arguments were brought previously, on 25 October 2018 by European members of NATO who urged the United States “to try to bring Russia back into compliance with the treaty rather than quit it, seeking to avoid a split in the alliance that Moscow could exploit”.[70]

Stoltenberg has suggested the INF Treaty could be expanded to include countries such as China and India, whose non-inclusion, Stoltenberg said, Russia had previously admonished.[90]

There were contrasting opinions on the withdrawal among American lawmakers. The INF Treaty Compliance Act (H.R. 1249) was introduced to stop the United States from using Government funds to develop missiles prohibited by the treaty.[91][92] while Senators Jim Inhofe and Jim Risch issued statements of support.[93]

On 8 March 2019, the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine announced that since the United States and Russian Federation had both pulled out of the INF treaty, it now had the right to develop intermediate-range missiles, citing Russian aggression as a serious threat to the European continent, and the presence of Russian Iskander-M nuclear-capable missile systems in Crimea.[94] Ukraine had about forty percent of Soviet space industry, but never developed a missile with the range to strike Moscow[95] (only having both longer and shorter-ranged missiles). Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko said “We need high-precision missiles and we are not going to repeat the mistakes of the Budapest Memorandum“.[95]

After the United States withdrew from the treaty, multiple sources opined that it would allow the country to more effectively counter Russia and China’s missile forces.[96][97][98]

References…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intermediate-Range_Nuclear_Forces_Treaty

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By Kristina Cooke

LOS ANGELES, Sept 27 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Friday blocked a Trump administration rule that would have allowed indefinite detention of migrant families, saying it was inconsistent with a decades-old court settlement that governs conditions for migrant children in U.S. custody.

The 1997 settlement agreement, which originated in 1985 with a complaint brought on behalf of 15-year-old Salvadoran immigrant Jenny L. Flores, set standards for humane treatment of children in detention and ordered their prompt release in most cases.

The Trump administration had hoped a new rule issued on Aug. 23 would replace the settlement, which had been modified over the years to prevent the long-term detention of families. The administration had said its rule would allow families to be held in humane conditions while their U.S. immigration court cases were decided.

The judge disagreed.

“This regulation is inconsistent with one of the primary goals of the Flores Agreement, which is to instate a general policy favoring release and expeditiously place minors ‘in the least restrictive setting appropriate to the minor’s age and special needs,'” U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles wrote in her ruling.

“The Flores Settlement Agreement remains in effect and has not been terminated,” she wrote.

U.S. President Donald Trump has made cracking down on immigration a hallmark of his presidency, and administration officials have repeatedly referred to the Flores agreement’s standards as “loopholes” that have attracted increasing numbers of mostly Central American families seeking U.S. asylum by forcing authorities to release them into the United States to wait for the outcome of their immigration hearings.

The new regulation would have allowed the administration to hold families indefinitely during court processes that can take months or years because of large court backlogs. It had been due to go into effect next month.

In a court hearing in Los Angeles on Friday, Gee asked Department of Justice Attorney August Flentje how he could argue that the new regulations were not inconsistent with the terms of the Flores agreement.

“Just because you tell me it is night outside, doesn’t mean it is not day,” Gee said.

Lawyers for the Trump administration are expected to appeal. A Department of Justice spokesman said it was “disappointed that the court is continuing to impose the outdated Flores Agreement even after the government has done exactly what the Agreement required: issue a comprehensive rule that will protect vulnerable children, maintain family unity, and ensure due process for those awaiting adjudication of their immigration claims.”

The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Matthew Albence, said earlier this week that family detention was just one tool available to the administration as it seeks to end what it calls “catch and release”. A policy that began this year of sending border crossers back to Mexico to wait for their immigration hearings is another, he said.

Albence and other administration officials have said the government would not be able to add to its around 3,300 family detention beds without additional funds being made available by the U.S. Congress. (Reporting by Kristina Cooke in Los Angelese and Alexandra Alper in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler )

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-7514067/U-S-judge-blocks-Trump-rule-migrant-child-detention.html

 

Reno v. Flores

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Reno v. Flores
Seal of the United States Supreme Court

Argued October 13, 1992
Decided March 23, 1993
Full case name Janet Reno, Attorney General, et al. v. Jenny Lisette Flores, et al.
Citations 507 U.S. 292 (more)

113 S. Ct. 1439; 123 L. Ed. 2d 1; 1993 U.S. LEXIS 2399; 61 U.S.L.W. 4237; 93 Cal. Daily Op. Service 2028; 93 Daily Journal DAR 3628; 7 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 73
Case history
Prior 942 F.2d 1352 (9th Cir. 1991); cert. granted, 503 U.S. 905 (1992).
Holding
INS regulation—which provides that alien juveniles detained on suspicion of being deportable may be released only to a parent, legal guardian, or other related adult—accords with both the Due Process Clause and the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
Byron White · Harry Blackmun
John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O’Connor
Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy
David Souter · Clarence Thomas
Case opinions
Majority Scalia, joined by Rehnquist, White, O’Connor, Kennedy, Souter, and Thomas
Concurrence O’Connor, joined by Souter
Dissent Stevens, joined by Blackmun
Laws applied
8 U.S.C.§ 1252(a)(1)

Janet Reno, Attorney General, et al. v. Jenny Lisette Flores, et al. (Reno v. Flores), 507 U.S. 292 (1993), was a Supreme Court of the United States case that addressed the detention and release of unaccompanied minors.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Immigration and Naturalization Service‘s regulations regarding the release of alien unaccompanied minors did not violate the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution.[1] The Court held that “alien juveniles detained on suspicion of being deportable may be released only to a parent, legal guardian, or other related adult.” The legacy for which Reno v. Flores became known was the subsequent 1997 court-supervised stipulated settlement agreement which is binding on the defendants (the federal government agencies)[2]—the Flores v. Reno Settlement Agreement or Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA) to which both parties in Reno v. Flores agreed in the District Court for Central California (C.D. Cal.).[3][Notes 1] The Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA), supervised by C.D. Cal., has set strict national regulations and standards regarding the detention and treatment of minors by federal agencies for over twenty years. It remains in effect until the federal government introduces final regulations to implement the FSA agreement. The FSA governs the policy for the treatment of unaccompanied alien children in federal custody of the legacy INS and its successor—United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the various agencies that operate under the jurisdiction of the DHS. The FSA is supervised by a U.S. district judge in the District Court for Central California.[4]

The litigation originated in the class action lawsuit Flores v. Meese filed on July 11, 1985 by the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL) and two other organizations on behalf of immigrant minors, including Jenny Lisette Flores, who had been placed in a detention center for male and female adults after being apprehended by the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) as she attempted to illegally cross the Mexico-United States border.

Under the Flores Settlement and current circumstances, DHS asserts that it generally cannot detain alien children and their parents together for more than brief periods [4]. In his June 20, 2018 executive order, President Trump had directed then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ask the District Court for the Central District of California, to “modify” the Flores agreement to “allow the government to detain alien families together” for longer periods, which would include the time it took for the family’s immigration proceedings and potential “criminal proceedings for unlawful entry into the United States”.[4]:2 In July 9, Judge Gee of the Federal District of California, ruled that there was no basis to amend the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA) that “requires children to be released to licensed care programs within 20 days.”[5]

In 2017, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee found that children who were in custody of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection lacked “food, clean water and basic hygiene items” and were sleep-deprived. She ordered the federal government to provide items such as soap and to improve the conditions.[6] The federal government appealed the decision saying that the order forcing them to offer specific items and services exceeded the original Flores agreement. The June 18, 2019 hearing became infamous[7] and caused nation wide outrage when a video of the Department of Justice senior attorney arguing against providing minors with toothbrushes and soap, went viral. The federal government lost their appeal when the 3 judge appeals court upheld Judge Gee’s order on August 15, 2019.[6]

Contents

Background and lower court cases

In 1985, Jenny Lisette Flores, an unaccompanied 15-year-old girl from El Salvador, was apprehended by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) after illegally attempting to cross the Mexico-United States border.[8]:1648 The unaccompanied minor was taken to a detention facility where she was held among adults of both sexes, was daily strip searched, and was told she would only be released to the custody of her parents, who, INS suspected, were illegal immigrants.[9]

On July 11, 1985, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law and two other organizations, filed a class action lawsuit Flores v. Meese, No. 85-4544 (C.D. Cal.) on behalf of Flores and “all minors apprehended by the INS in the Western Region of the United States”,[3]:1 against U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, challenging the conditions of juvenile detention and alleging that the “defendants’ policies, practices and regulations regarding the detention and release of unaccompanied minors taken into the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in the Western Region” were unconstitutional.[3]:1 Lawyers for the plaintiffs said that government’s detention and release policies were in violation of the children’s rights under the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution.[8]:1648[10] The plaintiffs originally directed their complaint at the newly released policy introduced by then director of Western Region of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Harold W. Ezell. Under the new policy—83 Fed. Reg. at 45489—which was introduced on September 6, 1984, a detained immigrant minor “could only be released to a parent or legal guardian”. This resulted in minors, such as Flores, being detained in poor conditions for “lengthy or indefinite” periods of time.[11]:33

In late 1987, the C.D. Cal District Court had “approved a consent decree to which all the parties had agreed, “that settled all claims regarding the detention conditions”.[12]

In 1988, INS issued a new regulation— 8 CFR 242.24—that amended the 8 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) parts 212 and 242 regarding the Detention and Release of Juveniles. The new INS regulation, known as 242.24, provided for the “release of detained minors only to their parents, close relatives, or legal guardians, except in unusual and compelling circumstances.”[12] The stated purpose of the rule was “to codify the [INS] policy regarding detention and release of juvenile aliens and to provide a single policy for juveniles in both deportation and exclusion proceedings.”[13]

On May 25, 1988, soon after the 8 CFR 242.24 regulation took effect, C.D. Cal District Judge Kelleher in Flores v. Meese, No. CV 85-4544-RJK (Px) rejected it and removed limitations regarding which adults could receive the minors. Judge Kelleher held that all minors have the right to receive a hearing from an immigration judge.[14][15] Judge Kelleher held that 8 CFR 242.24 “violated substantive due process, and ordered modifications to the regulation.”[13] He ruled that “INS release and bond procedures for detained minors in deportation proceedings fell short of the requirements of procedural due process.” He ordered the INS to provide the minors with an “administrative hearing to determine probable cause for his arrest and the need for any restrictions placed upon his release.”[13] The court granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs regarding the release conditions.[12][16]:35 This “invalidating the regulatory scheme on due process grounds” and ordered the INS to “release any otherwise eligible juvenile to a parent, guardian, custodian, conservator, or “other responsible adult party”. The District Court also required that the juvenile have a hearing with an immigration judge immediately after their arrest, even if the juvenile did not request it.[12][14]

In Flores v. Meese, 681 F. Supp. 665 (C.D. Cal. 1988), U.S. District Judge Robert J. Kelleher found that the INS policy to strip search children was unconstitutional.[17][Notes 2]

In June 1990, in Flores v. Meese, 934 F.2d 991 (9th Cir. 1990), in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Judges John Clifford Wallace and Lloyd D. George, reversed Judge Kelleher’s 1988 ruling. Judge Betty Binns Fletcher dissented.[18][19] In the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges concluded that the INS did not exceed its statutory authority in promulgating 242.24. They ruled that 242.24 did not violate substantive due process, under the Federal Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. They ruled that a remand was necessary with respect to a procedural due process claim (934 F2d 991).

On August 9, 1991, the Ninth Circuit 11-judge en banc majority in Flores v. Meese, overturned its June 1990 panel opinion and affirmed Judge Kelleher’s 1988 ruling against the government citing federal constitutional grounds including due process.[Notes 3][20] They vacated the panel opinion and affirmed the District Court’s order in all respects (942 F2d 1352).[Notes 4][21] According to Judge Dee’s ruling in Flores v. Sessions, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of plaintiffs’ motion to enforce [Paragraph 24A of] the Flores Agreement, holding that nothing in the text, structure, or purpose of the Homeland Security Act (HSA) or Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPRA) renders continued compliance with Paragraph 24A, as it applies to unaccompanied minors, “impermissible.”[22]

On March 23, 1993, the Supreme Court announced judgment in favor of the government, in Janet Reno, Attorney General, et al. v. Jenny Lisette Flores, et al.[23][24] Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and Justices Byron WhiteSandra Day O’ConnorAnthony KennedyDavid Souter, and Clarence Thomas, held that the unaccompanied alien children had no constitutional right to be released to someone other than a close relative, nor to automatic review by an immigration judge.[25]

On January 17, 1997 both parties signed the class action settlement agreement in Flores v. RenoThe Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA), which is binding on the defendants—the federal government agencies.[2]

USSC Reno v. Flores 1993

…”Where a juvenile has no available parent, close relative, or legal guardian, where the government does not intend to punish the child, and where the conditions of governmental custody are decent and humane, such custody surely does not violate the Constitution. It is rationally connected to a governmental interest in `preserving and promoting the welfare of the child,’ …and is not punitive since it is not excessive in relation to that valid purpose.” …Because this is a facial challenge, the Court rightly focuses on the Juvenile Care Agreement. It is proper to presume that the conditions of confinement are no longer ” `most disturbing,’ …and that the purposes of confinement are no longer the troublesome ones of lack of resources and expertise published in the Federal Register…but rather the plainly legitimate purposes associated with the government’s concern for the welfare of the minors. With those presumptions in place, “the terms and conditions of confinement…are in fact compatible with [legitimate] purposes,” …and the Court finds that the INS program conforms with the Due Process Clause.”

507U.S. 292 (1993) 1993[23]

In Reno v. Flores, the Supreme Court ruled on March 23, 1993 that while “detained children in question had a constitutionally protected interest in freedom from institutional confinement”, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ 1991 decision in Flores v. Meese because the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) regulation 8 CFR 242.24 in question, complied with the requirements of due process. The INS regulation—8 CFR 242.24—”generally authorized the release of a detained alien juvenile, in order of preference, to a parent, a legal guardian, or specified close adult relatives of the juvenile, unless the INS determined that detention was required to secure an appearance or to ensure the safety of the juvenile or others”.[23][12] This “meant that in limited circumstances” juveniles could be released to “to another person who executed an agreement to care for the juvenile and to ensure the juvenile’s attendance at future immigration proceedings”. Juveniles who are not released would “generally require” a “suitable placement at a facility which, in accordance with the [1987] consent decree, had to meet specified care standards.”[12][Notes 5][Notes 6]

On March 23, 1993, on certiorari the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government, voting 7–2 to reverse the lower court—the Court of Appeals.[24]:A19 Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and Justices Byron WhiteSandra Day O’ConnorAnthony KennedyDavid Souter, and Clarence Thomas, held that the unaccompanied alien children had no constitutional right to be released to someone other than a close relative, nor to automatic review by an immigration judge.[25] In an opinion by Scalia, joined by Rehnquist, White, O’Connor, Kennedy, Souter, and Thomas, it was held that the INS policy—242.24—did not violate substantive due process under the Fifth Amendment. While lawyers for the plaintiffs alleged in a “novel” way that children have a fundamental right to liberty, in which a child who has “no available parent, close relative, or legal guardian, and for whom the government was responsible” has the right “to be placed in the custody of a willing and able private custodian rather than the custody of a government-operated or government-selected child care institution.” The Court ruled that if that fundamental right existed, “it would presumably apply to state custody over orphaned and abandoned children as well.” They ruled that “under the circumstances” “continued government custody was rationally connected to a government interest in promoting juveniles’ welfare and was not punitive” and that “there was no constitutional need to meet even a more limited demand for an individualized hearing as to whether private placement would be in a juvenile’s “best interests,” so long as institutional custody was good enough.” The Court held that the INS “did not violate procedural due process, under the Fifth Amendment, through failing to require the INS to determine in the case of each alien juvenile that detention in INS custody would better serve the juvenile’s interests than release to some other “responsible adult,” not providing for automatic review by an immigration judge of initial INS deportability and custody determinations, or failing to set a time period within which an immigration judge hearing, if requested, had to be held.” The Court also held that this was not “beyond the scope of the Attorney General’s discretion” because the INS 242.24 “rationally pursued the lawful purpose of protecting the welfare of such juveniles.”[12][Notes 7][26][Notes 8] It held that the juveniles could be “detained pending deportation hearings pursuant” under 8 CFR § 242.24 which “provides for the release of detained minors only to their parents, close relatives, or legal guardians, except in unusual and compelling circumstances.”[23]

The Supreme Court justices said that in Reno v. Flores, most of the juveniles detained by INS and the Border Patrol at that time [1980s – early 1990s] were “16 or 17 years old”, and had “telephone contact with a responsible adult outside the INS–sometimes a legal services attorney”. They said that due process was “satisfied by giving the detained alien juveniles the right to a hearing before an immigration judge” and that there was no proof at that time “that all of them are too young or too ignorant to exercise that right when the form asking them to assert or waive it is presented.”[27]

Stevens, joined by Blackmun, dissented, expressing the view that the litigation history of the case at hand cast doubt on the good faith of the government’s asserted interest in the welfare of such detained alien juveniles as a justification for 242.24, and demonstrated the complete lack of support, in either evidence or experience, for the government’s contention that detaining such juveniles, when there were “other responsible parties” willing to assume care, somehow protected the interests of those juveniles; an agency’s interest in minimizing administrative costs was a patently inadequate justification for the detention of harmless children, even when the conditions of detention were “good enough”; and 242.24, in providing for the wholesale detention of such juveniles for an indeterminate period without individual hearings, was not authorized by 1252(a)(1), and did not satisfy the federal constitutional demands of due process.[12]

Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA)

On January 28, 1997, during the administration of President Bill Clinton, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL) and the federal government signed the Flores v. Reno Settlement Agreement, which is also known as The Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA), Flores SettlementFlores v. Reno Agreement.[28] [29][30][31] Following many years of litigation which started with the July 11, 1985 filing of class action lawsuit, Flores v. Meese, and included the Supreme Court case Reno v. Flores which was decided in 1993, the consent decree or settlement was reached in the United States District Court for the Central District of California between the parties. The court-supervised settlement, The Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA), continues to overseen by the District Court for the Central District of California. The Flores Agreement has set strict national regulations and standards regarding the detention and treatment of minors in federal custody since then. Among other things, the federal government agreed to keep children in the least restrictive setting possible and to ensure the prompt release of children from immigration detention.[8]:1650

According to September 17, 2018 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, the FSA was “intended as a temporary measure”.[4]:7 By 2001, both parties agreed that the FSA “would remain in effect until 45 days following [the] defendants’ publication of final regulations” governing the treatment of detained, minors.”[4]:7 By 2019, the federal government had “not published any such rules or regulations” so the FSA “continues to govern those agencies that now car