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Syria as Vietnam or Afghanistan: US Unlikely to Risk War With Russia

© AFP 2021 / DELIL SOULEIMANArmed men in uniform identified by Syrian Democratic forces as US special operations forces walk in the village of Fatisah in the northern Syrian province of Raqa on May 25, 2016
Armed men in uniform identified by Syrian Democratic forces as US special operations forces walk in the village of Fatisah in the northern Syrian province of Raqa on May 25, 2016 - Sputnik International
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The collapse of the Syrian ceasefire as well as Washington's refusal to continue to cooperate with Russia has prompted a heated debate over the possibility of the Afghanistan and the Vietnam-like scenarios taking place in Syria.

The possibility of a local clash between the US and Russia in Syria has been increased following the collapse of the Syrian ceasefire, according to Svobodnaya Pressa columnist Anton Mardasov.

"Some experts believe that the ongoing crisis may lead to the 'Afghanistan scenario' or even the 'Vietnam' one," Mardasov pointed out.

"Keep in mind that the US and the Soviet Union [covertly] fought against one another in Vietnam — Soviet rockets were fired there for the first time on July 24, 1965," the columnist recalled.

In this file photo released on Dec. 21, 2015, by the Rased News Network on a page affiliated with Islamic State militants, an Islamic State militant prepares to fire a TOW-1 anti-tank missile in Aleppo, northern Syria - Sputnik International
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The journalist expressed his concerns over the Obama administration considering direct strikes against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). He cited a recent report by American journalist Josh Rogin published by the influential Washington Times media outlet.

"US military strikes against the Assad regime will be back on the table Wednesday at the White House," the US journalist wrote Tuesday, admitting, however, that "there's little prospect President Obama will ultimately approve them."

"The options under consideration, which remain classified, include bombing Syrian air force runways using cruise missiles and other long-range weapons fired from coalition planes and ships," Rogin underscored citing an unnamed administration official who was part of the discussions.

The official added that one proposed way to get around the White House's objection to hitting the positions of the SAA without a UN Security Council resolution "would be to carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment."

Syrian army troops in southern Aleppo. File photo - Sputnik International
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Mardasov called attention to the fact that US war planners are currently discussing a number of scenarios aimed at "raising the pressure on the regime" of Bashar al-Assad.

In particular, the US administration has renewed the debate over arming the so-called Syrian rebels with antiaircraft systems, evoking strong memories of Washington providing FIM-92 Stingers to Afghani Mujahedeen back in the 1980s.

"In addition to the CIA and its partners providing weapons, the US is considering giving a green light to its regional allies, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, to provide more-powerful weapons systems to the rebels," the Wall Street Journal reported last Wednesday.

© AP Photo / Hussein Malla Syrian rebels battled government troops near a landmark 12th century mosque in the northern city of Aleppo.
 Syrian rebels battled government troops near a landmark 12th century mosque in the northern city of Aleppo. - Sputnik International
Syrian rebels battled government troops near a landmark 12th century mosque in the northern city of Aleppo.

The leaks have not gone unnoticed by the Russian Defense Ministry.

"A number of Western media outlets have published 'leaks' about the talks held in the White House administration about the possibility of missile launches and airstrikes on Syrian army positions," Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov stated Thursday, adding that "as history has shown, such 'leaks' often prove to be a preface to real action."

Men in uniform identified by Syrian Democratic forces as US special operations forces as they ride in the back of a pickup truck in the village of Fatisah in the northern Syrian province of Raqa. (File) - Sputnik International
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On Friday Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova commented on the recent deployment of Russia's S-300V4 "Antey-2500" anti-ballistic missile system in Syria.

"The S-300 appeared there [in Syria] after experts close to the American establishment started leaking information…that the US could hit Syrian airfields with cruise missiles," Zakharova said in an interview with Dozhd, a Russian television channel.

In an interview with Svobodnaya Pressa Leonid Ivashov, President of the Academy of Geopolitical Studies, a Moscow-based think tank, noted that the situation unfolding in Syria bears some resemblance to the events of the Vietnam War.

He noted, however, that in contrast to the war in Vietnam, Washington is unwilling to deploy boots on the ground in Syria and prefers to use "proxies." Still it cannot be excluded that the US military would provide their allies with air and artillery assistance.

According to Ivashov, Russia needs to work closely with Turkey, not only through Russian diplomatic channels but also through those of Iran.

A serviceman stands near an S-300 surface-to-air missile system. (File) - Sputnik International
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The idea of the US-Turkish military offensive against Raqqa announced by Ankara poses a challenge to the territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. It is possible that after retaking Raqqa the US-led coalition would carve Syria up along the Euphrates.

"I believe that the US will work actively in this direction, but there are certain gaps in this plan, in particular, the Kurds and Ankara's attitude [toward the offensive]. The Euphrates Shield Operation aimed at creating a buffer zone in northern Syria indicated that the Turkish forces are not that 'combat-ready,'… and prefer to use allied [Syrian] opposition forces as its vanguard," Ivashov noted.

For his part, Yakov Kedmi, a retired high-ranking Israeli intelligence official, told the media outlet that there is no precondition for the development of the "Vietnam scenario" in Syria.

However, Kedmi believes that the recent rhetoric of Washington has much in common with that of the US leadership during the final phase of the Vietnam conflict, when the White House realized that it had de facto lost the war.

"The defeat [of Islamists] in Aleppo may deal a heavy blow to Obama's image and show his counterparts in the Democratic party — particularly, Hillary Clinton — in a bad light. Therefore they will try to postpone the defeat of the opposition in Aleppo… Americans are not so crazy to start a war with Russia for the Syrian Arab Army, but they will continue to carry out a propaganda campaign to save its prestige," Kedmi told Svobodnaya Pressa. 

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