Open Season on Syrian Troops: Denmark, Australia and Britain All Say Took Part in Deadly Deir ez-Zor Raid

They think the loss of life is 'regrettable' -- but not so regrettable it warrants an apology for invading the country's skies

Tue, Sep 20, 2016
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Bombs Away! -- Free for all!

Saturday US blasted Syrian army positions in a sustained, 40-minute attack that destroyed at least six pieces of armor (how many T-72s Washington thinks ISIS has??) and killed over 90 soldiers defending the encircled city of Deir ez-Zor vs ISIS.

Americans quickly admitted the bombing but fell short of actually apologizing for it. All that we saw of this sort was a quote from an "anonymous senior official" that a statement of regret was relayed via the Russians, which may or may not be true, but in either case is something else than a public apology. Clearly somebody thinks The Exceptional Nation doesn't have to apologize to anyone, the least of all to a government it has targeted for regime change.

Instead something else has happened to improve the optics and help diffuse the anger. The governments of Denmark, Australia and Britain have all come forth to say that their aircraft also took part in the deadly raid. This was the first we ever heard of it, neither Russians nor Americans said a word about anyone else participating -- so then how truly principled of Copenhagen, Canberra and London to come forth and take a part of the blame when they could have kept quiet and no one would have been the wiser. But then if they felt such a pressing need to own their part of the blame why did none of them offer an apology and actually, you know, owned it?

Australia was the first to come forth but only offered condolences "to the families of any Syrian personnel killed or wounded in this incident".

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Denmark was next but only offered a curt statement that "it's obviously regrettable if coalition aircraft hit anything but ISIS forces."

Next confirming participation was Britain which only said it was "fully cooperating with coalition investigation."

So this is great. Apparently if you are a western nation you can just zoom into the country of Syria uninvited -- illegally under international norms and violating that nation's sovereignty -- massacre 90 of its soldiers from the air and as long as you meant to strike somebody else it's all just mildly regrettable -- but not so regrettable that you would have to offer an actual apology, or promise not to fly air raid into Syria again. The guile here is something else.

The Moon of Alabama is wondering if the three vassal nations that came forth actually took part in the mission. First of all none of them have yet admitted to actually firing a shot in the raid. Denmark says its pair of F-16s flew air cover for the strike craft. It's not clear how Australia participated since it operates neither F-16 nor A-10 jets. Britain claims it participated with a Reaper drone but it hasn't elaborated if the drone was armed or there in a surveillance capacity only.

Moon of Alabama wonders if Washington didn't go around asking its NATO allies to volunteer to say they took part even though they did not. It has pointed out Danish aircraft have only been known to operate in Iraq, and the attacking planes flew in from Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan which only hosts American planes.

The hypothesis is certainly plausible but if true it only makes the incident more bizarre and hypocritical. In that case Copenhagen, Canberra and London think invading Syria via air and killing 90 of its troops is such a trifle they would admit to taking part even when they did not.

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