Recent U.S. airstrikes in Syria leave many wondering when war will end


Courtesy of AP News

President Biden authorizes airstrikes on Syria during Syrian Civil War.

President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes on eastern Syria last month, targeting buildings the U.S. military said were housing weapons and ammunition belonging to the Iranian government.

These attacks on February 25th left the world wondering when the ongoing Syrian Civil War will finally be over, as well as the escalating global conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia since this conflict involves several countries on both sides engaging in proxy wars.

Many Americans were disappointed with the attacks, as a majority of the country feels that the U.S. military should no longer be involved in the Middle East, according to a recent poll from the Brookings Institution

The New York Times reported that Biden authorized the strikes in response to an attack on American military personnel in Erbil, Iraq. U.S. intelligence suspected this was carried out by an Iranian militia, according to The Times.

The report also stated that the U.S. military claimed the strikes were “a relatively small, carefully calibrated military response, consisting of seven 500 pound bombs dropped on a small cluster of buildings at an unofficial crossing at the Syria-Iraq border used to smuggle across weapons and fighters.” The strikes were just over the Syrian border, thus avoiding U.S. conflict with the Iraqi government.

The U.S. has been involved in the Syrian Civil War, which is considered a global proxy war, since 2014. Americans see this as part of the ongoing War on Terror. The main targets of the U.S. in this war were the Russian and Iranian-backed Syrian government, as well as the Islamic extremist group, ISIS. 

The U.S. involvement primarily consisted of airstrikes carried out by drones, which many have criticized for indiscriminately affecting civilians, according to the Associated Press

The Syrian Civil War is an ongoing multi-sided civil war that broke out after the Arab Spring in 2011. There has been continuous fighting between the Syrian socialist government of President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Russia and Iran, the Islamic fundamentalist Free Syrian Army, backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Democratic Forces, a mutli-ethnic militia formed primarily by Muslim Kurds and Christian Assyrians, backed by NATO, and ISIS, who are backed by Al Qaeda.

According to a New York Times report from 2017, “international organizations have criticized virtually all sides involved, including the Syrian government, ISIS, opposition rebel groups, Russia, Turkey, and the U.S. led a coalition of severe human rights violations and massacres.”

The war created 3.8 million refugees, leading to a worldwide refugee crisis in 2015. This was the result of both political violence and terrorism, as well as foreign sanctions on Syria from countries that opposed the Assad government, such as the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Millions of Syrians found refuge in nearby countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Cyprus, as well as Greece, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Sweden.

BBC reports that it has been eight years, 8 months and one week since the Red Cross declared the situation in Syria to be a civil war. The U.S. first got involved in 2014 in order to fight ISIS, but now is primarily involved in combating pro-Iranian insurgents, according to the New Yorker.

ISIS has for the most part dwindled due to suffering a major defeat in July of 2016 by a coalition force between the Syrian government alliance and the Syrian Democratic Forces. And while the war seems to be beginning to come to an end, violence continues to be concentrated in the Idlib and Al-Hasakah regions. 

The recent U.S. airstrike may come as shocking news to many people in the Western World, but to Syrians, it is just another event in an ongoing conflict that many want to see end.