The US is desperate to create a pretext for direct military intervention in Syria—but Syrian forces and their allies won't take the bait
US military presence in Syria is plainly illegal under international law, and arguably even unconstitutional.
While there are loopholes which allow for limited US military operations without a formal declaration of war, the president cannot initiate a war without congressional approval. But the attack on pro-government forces in southeast Syria on Thursday was just that—an act of war.
This attack was not intended to deter the Syrian Arab Army from advancing; the US knows that its proxy forces and mercenaries are unable to halt the Syrian Army and its allies as they push towards the border. In order to prevent Syria from reclaiming its own territory and securing its border, the US would need to launch a direct military intervention.
Of course, Washington would need a pretext for doing so.
Do you see where this is going?
Thursday's attack was a provocation—nothing more. Washington is eager to manufacture a pretext to further increase its presence in Syria.
So it's no surprise that the Syrian command and its allies are playing their cards in a calm and calculated way. A military response to Thursday's attack would have been exactly what Washington wanted and needed.
It's hard to say what will come next, but a formation of Syrian troops is approximately 15 km from Al-Tanaf, keeping in mind that Thursday's strike took place about 20 km away; in other words, the provocation failed to deter the SAA and its allies from advancing.
Not every loud statement is a true statement, but almost every silent move is a valid one.
More will be revealed in the coming days; Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made it clear that the US strike against the Syrian Arab Army was a "violation of Syria's sovereignty". That may sound like a wimpy response—but don't be so sure.
Lavrov's statement is a reflection of Russian military policy. A Russian Air Force Su-30 was spotted over As-Suwayda province; most likely it was covering the advancing Syrian troops towards Al Tanaf from any foolish hostility.
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