News / Middle East

    US Airstrikes May Push Islamic State Back into Fight Against Assad

    US Airstrikes May Push Islamic State Back into Fight Against Assadi
    X
    August 19, 2014 10:19 PM
    Syria and the United States are both attacking Islamic State militants who have displaced thousands of civilians in Syria and northern Iraq. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, U.S. airstrikes in Iraq could push those forces back across the border and again into the fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    Syria and the United States are both attacking Islamic State militants who have displaced thousands of civilians in Syria and northern Iraq.   But, U.S. airstrikes in Iraq could push those forces back across the border and again into the fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    While the fighters of the Islamic State have been sweeping through Iraq in recent weeks, Syrian troops have kept up their fight against both it and the opposition rebels - regaining ground near the Damascus airport while bombing militant positions near the border. And civilians continue to flee the fighting, says Human Rights Watch's Sarah Margon.

    "We are looking at a very scaled-up, brutal situation not only in Syria, but also in Iraq where certainly the borders are increasingly blurred," she said.

    But facing a counter-attack by the Kurdish Peshmerga, and unable to counter U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann says Islamic State fighters may also be more apt to refocus on Syria,

    "It would be even more likely to become their next phase of activity if, in fact, the American operations in Iraq do slow their advances there and give them incentives to turn their attentions away from their more-difficult front to a front in which the Americans are not present," he said.

    And he says with weapons and territory captured in Iraq, the Islamic State militants may now also be in a stronger position to confront Syrian government forces.

    "It may be that they have reached a point where they can make a bit of a tactical pivot," Heydemann said. "Having secured a solid base, they can perhaps turn their attention more fully to the regime."

    Even though the U.S. is launching air strikes against the same group that Syrian government forces are fighting - that does not give Washington common cause with Damascus, says Deputy U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf.

    "While we may be looking at some of the same targets, I think the fact that, or targets from the same group, the fact that the Assad regime has allowed ISIS to flourish and grow in the way it has is really one of the main reasons they have grown so strong," she said.

    That early alliance of convenience with ISIS against more moderate opponents is something Heydemann says Assad may find to have been a miscalculation.

    "One of the big questions is whether in creating the conditions that permitted the rise of ISIS, including some direct measures like the release of militants from Syrian prisons who then joined ISIS, the regime will find that the backlash creates a much bigger problem than it anticipated," he said.

    A problem that, at least for now, Syrian forces are getting help with - in the international drive against the Islamic State.

    You May Like

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Lawrence Bush from: Houston, USA
    August 24, 2014 2:09 PM
    The very phenomenon of ISIL is the outcome of the Syrian civil war to fight the the Assad regime out of the Syrian dictatorship. The ISIL chief Baghdadi and his fancied a statehood out of the Syrian embroil is another dictatorship. What our air strikes upon the ISIL militia...... its complete objectives that our govt. has not fully revealed yet. Of course, the very objective of our govt. now is to keep the ISIL militia out of the Iraqi territory . And, that's to keep the militia inside the Syrian territory only for a ' do or die' policy in the Syrian civil war. The primus and princep drawback of the rebel groups that are fighting against the Syrian regime forces and the Lebanese Hezbolla militia is the lack of a resultant unity. There do remain many rebel groups as the Free Syrian Army, al Nusra front of the al Queda, the ISIL - an off-shoot of the al Queda, etc. If all the rebel units to fight under a unified command; then, to crushing the regime forces and to ousting the Syrian dictator wouldn't be difficile. So, for defending the very freedom, unity and territorial integrity of Iraq; and, the defense adjuvances of our friendly states and ours would be useful for the Iraqi govt. and people along with our precision air-strikes upon the ISIL. positions inside the Iraqi territory entirely, that's to go on. Besides, along with our air force jets, the use of non-lethal and lethal drones would be in the Iraqi air-space not for strikes at the sites of strategic importance of the ISIL only but to gathering strategic informations too.

    by: Anonymous
    August 20, 2014 10:12 AM
    The rise of Isil is a direct consequence of the policy of fuelling the insurgency in Syria. No matter what the US state department claims, it is the lawlessness created by an externally supported insurgency that lead to this.

    by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
    August 19, 2014 10:33 PM
    ISIL has a backing of Saudi Arabia. These human killers got training in Saudi Arabia how to behead man and woman. If USA wants peace in Middle East, then USA must ask sponsor of these terrorist groups to stop funding and training. If USA do not know who are sponsors of these terrorist groups I inform you now. Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Jordon and Kuwait.
    In Response

    by: Tom Murphy from: Heartland America
    August 20, 2014 10:53 AM
    Since there is no logic in what you say, I have to assume that you are a supporter of ISIS and are trying to turn the USA against its allies in the middle east.

    by: Mr A from: new york
    August 19, 2014 9:48 PM
    If ISIS want retreat and fight back Bashar El Assad, we have to use air strike to attack them in Syria. Even we do not like Bashar El Assad. we have to put our different view aside and work together to get these criminal killed .

    by: meanbill from: USA
    August 19, 2014 7:48 PM
    CRAZY isn't it?... The US fought the Sunni Muslims in the "Sunni Triangle" and in the "Triangle of Death" in Iraq for (6) years without defeating them, (and now), the US makes a few airstrikes with fighter planes and US killer drone bombs, (and the US spreads the propaganda), that the very small military actions they take, are helping defeat the (USIL) al-Baghdadi Sunni Muslim army?...... IF the US had given Iraq the warplanes they bought from the US in 2012, (they'd been of more use to the Iraqis), than the few bombs the US dropped on disabled (ISIL) pickup trucks.... (a spit in the ocean, is as much as the US bombs are accomplishing in Iraq).

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora