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Introduction — July 6, 2017

The Trump administration is playing an incredibly dangerous game of deception double cross.
On the one hand it claims to be fighting terrorists in Syria and Iraq. While on the other hand it is supporting “moderate” rebel groups opposed to Syrian President Assad. In many cases those purported “moderate” rebel groups are on amicable terms with al Qaeda and al-Nusra and in some cases there is little to distinguish them from Islamic State.
What Islamic State (ISIS,ISIL or Daesh), al Qaeda and al Nusra have in common with U.S.-backed “moderate” groups is that they are all trying to oust President Assad. This was a foreign policy objective under the Obama administration, although it was thwarted by Russian intervention in Syria, and it seems to remain so under Trump.
Despite his pre-election promises Trump still seems intent on ousting President Assad.
The Russian and Iranian forces and Hezbollah are all in Syria at the invitation of the legitimately elected government of President Assad. The U.S. and its proxy forces are not.
That’s worth remembering because the following report fails to mention that U.S. forces are not in Syria at the invitation of President Assad. They are there assisting a dubious collection of “Syrian rebels” in an effort to oust him.
Intentionally or not, that’s a crucial distinction that the Washington Free Beacon fails to mention.
By authorizing strikes on Iranian forces and Hezbollah, the U.S. runs the risk of getting more deeply involved in an already dangerous conflict. Like pouring gasoline on a fire this has the potential to inflame a regional conflict and turn it into something much bigger.
Despite the transition from Obama to Trump, U.S. foreign policy doesn’t seem to have changed one bit. Regime change in Damascus and from there Tehran still seems the prime objective. Ed.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria. Click to enlarge

Trump Admin Authorizes Strikes on Iranian-Backed Forces

Adam Kredo — Washington Beacon July 5, 2017

U.S. forces have been instructed to take all measures needed to protect American interests in Syria, including military measures, as part of an effort that comes after top officials in the Trump administration assessed that Iran is deliberately probing American weaknesses and reactions on the Syrian battlefield, according to senior Trump administration officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

Iran-backed forces, including Hezbollah, have already initiated multiple encounters with the United States by violating agreements worked out between Washington and Moscow aimed at preventing the various factions targeting ISIS inside Syria from coming into conflict. This is part of a campaign that analysts inside and outside the White House believe is aimed at testing the Trump administration’s resolve, sources said.

“That was very clearly a process of the Iranians and Hezbollah and [the] Syrian regime probing and testing our limits, and testing how much we were willing to do,” one senior Trump administration official said. “In every case, it was a matter of them testing and probing, and us responding by defending ourselves.”

These clashes were the result of pro-Syrian regime forces, including Iran and Hezbollah, “violating a de-confliction measure that had been worked out with the Russians,” the official said. “The forces violated the measure.”

The Trump administration has instructed U.S. forces to respond to Iranian attacks with force if necessary.

“What they found out very quickly,” said the official, was “us responding by defending ourselves. What was established was that we’re determined to defend ourselves.”

This defensive action is being implemented at the same time the Trump administration turns its attention to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the Islamic Republic’s paramilitary force that coordinates operations in Syria and other warzones.

Trump administration officials view the IRGC as being part of “every malignant protrusion of the Iranian regime,” according to one administration official, who said the White House is dually focused on choking off this force.

The actions by U.S. forces are part of a broader pushback against Iran, ranging from battlefield responses to diplomatic action, according to a veteran Iran policy analyst who has been briefed by the White House both on parts of the Syria strategy and on parts of an ongoing Iran policy review being conducted by the administration.

The Free Beacon first reported many details of the review several weeks ago, including actions by the Trump administration to potentially block the sale of U.S. commercial aircraft to Tehran.

“For the first time since the U.S. intervened into the Syrian conflict, American forces have been authorized to do take all measures to defend U.S. interests against Iranian provocations and aggression,” said the source. “This is part of a concrete strategy that has already been implemented in part, and is being bolstered every day, but very senior Trump officials. No more of watching U.S. forces get rolled in Syria, and also no more of thanking Iran after they seize our sailors in the Gulf.

One senior Trump administration official familiar with the Iran policy review said the White House is currently “in the thick of it,” evaluating a range of options to confront Iran’s global terror operations.

Continues …

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