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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.