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June 17, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8803

Syrian Media Threatens Escalation Of Resistance Against U.S. Forces In Country: America’s Policy "Will Not Cause People To Take To The Streets; It Will Cause The Missiles To Emerge From The Depots"

June 17, 2020
Syria | Special Dispatch No. 8803

Tensions in Syria surrounding the presence of U.S. forces in the northeast of the country are mounting, and there are increasing reports about popular resistance, both peaceful and violent, to this presence.[1]Most of the reports speak of Syrian villagers pelting U.S. military vehicles with stones or barring them from passing through their villages, while some also claim that the Syrian army and local militias are encouraging or assisting the residents in this action. Photos of non-violent opposition against the U.S. forces have appeared in the Syrian state press and on social media. The Syrian state media has also reported on armed clashes resulting in American casualties, but the Americans themselves, the Syrian opposition websites and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)[2] reject this as fake news deliberately spread by the Syrian regime. These reports may be aimed at stoking the Syrians' pride and encouraging popular resistance against the U.S. military presence in the country. 

At the same time, the Syrian state media is also explicitly inciting against the U.S. and its forces in Syria. Many articles published in the state press encourage popular and even armed action against these forces, while threatening that their remaining in Syria will lead to bloodshed and will be "suicide" and "playing with fire" on their part. Some of the articles also referred to the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, a U.S. legislation imposing further sanctions on the Syrian regime and on anyone assisting it or conducting business with it.[3]  The articles described the Caesar Act, which came into force today (June 17, 2020), as "economic terror," and warned that it will encounter firm Syrian resistance and may even lead to a regionwide war.

It should be mentioned that the Syrian state media has also accused the U.S. forces of torching wheat fields in northeastern Syria in order to cause famine among the populace, as a complementary measure to the Caesar Act. These reports, too, were denied by the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and by websites identified with the Syrian opposition, and are apparently part of the Syrian regime's efforts to blacken the image of the U.S. forces in the country.[4]


Children throw stones at U.S. military vehicles in Farfara village in the Hasakah governorate  (Sana.sy, April 22, 2020)

This report reviews the resistance against the U.S. forces in Syria and some of the articles published on this topic in the Syrian press.

Locals In Northeastern Syria Clash With U.S. Forces

As noted, most of the popular resistance against the U.S. forces in northeastern Syria took the form of villagers blocking U.S. military vehicles patrolling in their area. For example, on May 12 it was reported that locals from the villages of Dashisha and Qahirah in the  northwestern Hasakah governorate had prevented a convoy of three U.S. armored vehicles from driving through their villages, cried slogans against the U.S. presence in Syria and pelted the vehicles with stones and sticks. [5] Another similar incident in the same villages was reported on May 28.[6]

On June 2, it was reported that regime army soldiers, along with several locals from the town of Abu Rasin in northwestern Hasakah, had blocked a convoy of eight U.S. vehicles, forcing them to turn back, and that one of the soldiers had shouted in English "Go out from here, we hate you."[7]


Villagers from Dashisha and Qahirah block a U.S. patrol (sana.sy, May 12, 2020)


Syrian soldier confronts U.S. troops in a village in Hasakah governorate (Arabic.sputniknews.com, June 2, 2020)

Clashes with the U.S. forces have not been limited to northeastern Syria. On June 8, the Maghawir Al-Thawra faction, which is supported by the Global Coalition and is active in the vicinity of the U.S. base in Tanf in southeastern, near the Iraq-Jordan-Syria border triangle, reported that Syrian army troops had entered the 55-km zone around the base, which the U.S. defines as a deconfliction zone off limits to the forces of the regime and its allies. According to the report, the ensuing clash resulted in many casualties among the Syrian troops and their eventual expulsion from the area.[8]

Syrian News Agency Spreads False Reports On Casualties Among U.S. Troops

Alongside these reports, the Syrian regime's official news agency, SANA, occasionally reports about attacks on the U.S. forces in which American troops are allegedly wounded or killed. However, the U.S., as well as Syrian opposition websites, sources in the SDF, and the Global Coalition, generally deny these reports. The coalition has in fact described SANA as expert at manufacturing fake news.  As mentioned above, the SANA reports may be intended to lionize the Syrian army and incite resistance against the U.S. forces.

For example, on April 6, 2020, SANA reported that unknown persons had ambushed a joint U.S. and SDF patrol near the village of Wasi’a in the Deir Al-Zor area, killing an American officer and two SDF fighters.[9] The Al-Akhbar daily, which is close to Hizbullah, reported that the officer killed was called Donald and had been responsible for airdrop operations at a Global Coalition base in the Al-Omar oil field. [10] The opposition-affiliated Jesrpress.com website denied that the attack had occurred.[11] Similarly, on April 20, SANA reported that unknown elements had attacked a U.S. Hummer near the village of Rawashid south of Hasakah.[12] In this case opposition websites agreed that a U.S. soldier had been killed,[13] but the Global Coalition denied that any attack had taken place.[14]

According to an April 27 report by SANA,  unknown persons attacked a U.S. Hummer passing east of Deir Al-Zor, which was later found burned and empty of its passengers,[15] but a source close to the SDF told Al-Akhbar that no attack had taken place.[16] Global Coalition spokesman Myles Caggins likewise denied the report, tweeting "If there are prizes for fake news, this news agency [SANA] deserves to win them all."[17]


Tweet by Global Coalition Spokesman Myles Caggins describes the SANA report as "another nonsense article" (Twitter.com/OIRSpox, April 27, 2020)

On May 26, SANA claimed that a joint convoy of U.S. and SDF troops had been attacked with RPGs near the village of Rawashid, and that three Americans and five SDF members had been wounded.[18] The Pentagon stated that no attack had occurred,[19] and the Jesrpress.com opposition website likewise denied the report.[20]

Syrian Government Dailies: Resistance Against The Americans Will Escalate To The Point Of Bloodshed

Amid the popular resistance to the U.S. presence and the false reports about injuries and fatalities among the American troops, the regime's dailies, especially Al-Thawra, have continued to publish articles applauding the resistance in the Jazirah region in the northeast of the country and urging to expand it, and threatening the Americans that they will pay heavily unless they withdraw from Syria.

Remaining On Syrian Soil Is Suicide On Part Of Americans

Al-Thawra columnist Lamis 'Odeh wrote: "America's ambition to invade Syria, especially the Jazirah region, is now known to all, after the secret goals behind the flooding of Syria with terror and the financing and training [of the terrorists] have been exposed, and now that Trump has publicly and boldly declared his [intention] to plunder Syria’s oil and pour the profits into the coffers of the American state[21]… Despite all the bullying and aggression employed by Trump, by his occupying troops and by his terrorist mechanisms in the Syrian Jazirah with the aim of plundering Syria's resources, this reckless aggression will not continue and this area will not remain under occupation. Despite all his gambles, [even] the idiot Trump seems to understand that counting on an ongoing state of occupation is delusional, and that keeping his soldiers [in Syria] amid the scorching flames of popular resistance  is nothing but a foolish [act of] suicide and of playing with fire from which his troops will not emerge unscathed and that he, the impotent American [president], will not be able to carry out without facing implications and angry and vengeful reactions inside the U.S.

"The current resistance [actions] against the American occupation in the Syrian Jazirah are just the first drops of a much more painful torrent. Trump can expect to receive the messages of the Jazirah, which will be sealed in the blood of his soldiers. Will he begin reading the writing on the wall, before the message [conveyed by the forces] on the ground begins to reach him?"[22]  

Popular Resistance To The American And Turkish Occupation Is Likely To Increase

Al-Thawra columnist 'Abd Al-Halim Sa'ud directed threats both at the U.S. and at Turkey, which likewise has troops in northeastern Syria. He wrote: "The American and Turkish invaders both know that Syria’s Jazirah region is rich in resources such as water, oil and agriculture, and is a vital region for the Syrian people and state that cannot be relinquished under any circumstances.  Even if Syria’s [first] priority [right now] is the war on terror in other areas, such as the Idlib region and the northern Aleppo district, the Jazirah region is on the agenda as well, with the aim of restoring it to the Syrian homeland along with the other regions of Syria  ̶  and the American and Turkish occupiers must understand this. The resistance waged by our people in the Jazirah region against every occupying  presence on their soil has perhaps conveyed a message to both occupations. One question remains: Will the American occupation leave the area of its own free will and spare [itself] the heavy price it will have to pay if it closes its ears to the demands of the Syrian state and the Syrian people? Or will it be forced to leave when the popular resistance operations… against the American and Turkish occupations pick up speed? This resistance is bound to spread and increase because the people [of the region] can  no longer tolerate the attacks on their soil, the burning of their crops and the plundering of their oil by the American occupation and its mercenaries, which are identical  to the actions of the Turkish occupation army and its mercenaries.”[23]

The More U.S. Soldiers Fear For Their Lives, The Sooner They Will Leave Syria

Al-Thawra columnist Ahmad Dua wrote: "It is a well-known fact that, after the soldiers of the Syrian Arab army deployed in Syria's Jazirah region, its residents gradually began to resume their daily routine and pursue their livelihood, but at the same time they also overcame their fear of resisting the American occupation and the militias that collaborate with it. This became very clear in the recent months, when they prevented patrols of the American occupation from entering their villages or from using the roads and crossings in their vicinity. Later, this escalated into clashes and the throwing of stones at American vehicles and soldiers, as well as threats to use light weapons and even actions which, albeit still limited, resulted in the wounding and death of U.S. soldiers three weeks ago [apparently a reference to the alleged April 6 incident mentioned above].

"Popular resistance against the American occupation and its agents in the Jazirah region is on the rise, and if it were not for the violence and intimidation [tactics] used by America's militias against the citizens, the American forces would have faced [a choice between only] two options: withdrawal, or a direct confrontation with [the locals] who oppose their presence there. This stage will no doubt come, for it will not be long before the locals area rise up against [the Americans]. The American’s withdrawal from Syria depends on many factors, but achieving this as soon as possible requires increasing the American soldiers’ fear for their lives [through] widespread resistance against them wherever they are present… [But] driving the American occupier from northeastern Syria is not just the duty of the Jazirah residents. It is the national duty of every Syrian everywhere…”[24]

The Caesar Act Will Encounter Resolute Resistance And Even Lead To A Region-Wide War

Other articles referred to the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which, as stated, sanctions the Syrian regime for war crimes against the Syrian population. The articles warned that sanctions would be met with resolute resistance and might even lead to a region-wide war.

Al-Thawra columnist Nasser Mundhir wrote: "The culture of resistance has always been deeply engrained in the Syrian people, and its embers will never be extinguished. As long as [resistance] flares up in the face of every occupier and oppressor, it will [always] triumph. The clashes between the locals in the eastern region and the U.S. occupying forces are gradually [increasing], and the sight of locals blocking American armored vehicles in several areas and forcing them back reflect the true state of the flame of resistance, which burns in all Syrians, of every group and every sector… The two occupiers, the Americans and the Turks,  not only murder, expel and occupy land, but have begun employing tactics of stealing and plundering the Syrian resources, including oil, facilities, mechanisms, power plants, agricultural crops, etc. This makes it even clearer that popular resistance is the most effective way to expel the occupiers and restore [our] land, rights and property.

"The way to deal with America's economic terror and with the arbitrary Western siege is through steadfast resistance, as the Syrians have frequently done, achieving victory through their [immense] will-power. Today they are stronger than ever, determined to confront the arbitrary American decision [called the] Caesar [Act]. By working together, they can defend their national economy, thwart this aggressive act and minimize its effects…"[25]

Al-Thawra columnist 'Azza Shtawi even warned that the Caesar Act may spark a war in the region, writing: "The shadow of war hangs over the [current] era. This shadow is cast by Trump’s Caesar [Act] and the ongoing American pressure on the region. Washington and its strategy of suffocating [the region] through economic siege and sanctions will not cause the people to take to the streets. Rather, it will cause the missiles to emerge from their depots… if [Trump] continues to impede the region’s attempts to recover with sanctions and occupation…

"Trump has gotten himself into a serious mess by maintaining his extremist politics inside and outside the U.S. He has not achieved economic success, nor has he promoted political solutions, but only created more trouble and disasters in the world… Hence, there are signs that the region may [slide into] a war in which the shackles of sanctions will be removed by the force of arms, by threatening the head of the serpent, [namely] Israel, [or else a war that] will place political solutions on the table through Russian or Chinese intervention. But continuing the Hulagu Khan[26] policy of burning crops, stealing oil, laying sanctions and occupying land is not an option."[27]

 

[2] The SDF, a coalition of forces in northeastern Syria led by the Kurdish People's Defense Units (YPG), is supported by the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

[3]The Caesar Act enables the U.S. to impose sanctions and travel restrictions on anyone supporting or trading with the Syrian regime. The act is named after a former photographer in Assad's army who leaked thousands of photos documenting the torture and murder of prisoners in Syrian jails.

[4] On May 23, 2020 the Syrian regime's official news agency SANA (sana.sy) reported, citing the news website  IBTimes Singapore, that U.S. President Trump personally instructed his troops to burn wheat fields in Syria, but the Global Coalition denied this (twitter.com/OIRSpox, May 27, 2020) and Syrian opposition websites called it fake news (see e.g., aksalser.com, May 31, 2020).

[5] Almayadeen.net, May 12, 2020.

[6] Sana.sy, May 28, 2020.

[7] Arabic.sputniknews.com, June 2, 2020.

[8] Facebook.com/Mgawer.ALthwra, June 8, 2020.

[9] Sana.sy, April 6, 2020.

[10] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), April 8, 2020.

[11] Jesrpress.com, April 6, 2020.

[12] Sana.sy, April 20, 2020.

[13] Stepagency-sy.net, baladi-news.com, April 20, 2020.

[14] Twitter.com/OIRSpox, April 20, 2020.

[15] Sana.sy, April 27, 2020.

[16] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), April 28, 2020.

[17] Twitter.com/OIRSpox, April 27, 2020.

[18] Sana.sy, May 26, 2020.

[19] Skynewsarabia.com, May 26, 2020.

[20] Jesrpress.com, May 26, 2020.

[21] On October 27, 2019, Trump drew rebukes for suggesting that an American oil company should operate the oil fields in northeastern Syria, so as to "spread out the wealth." He said: “What I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly... and spread out the wealth" (Reuters.com, October 27, 2019).

[22]  Al-Thawra (Syria), June 2, 2020.

[23] Al-Thawra (Syria), May 19, 2020.

[24] Al-Thawra (Syria), May 2, 2020.

[25] Al-Thawra (Syria), June 4, 2020.

[26]  Genghis Khan's grandson, who conquered large parts of Western Asia.

[27] Al-Thawra (Syria), June 7, 2020.

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