(May 3, 2018 / MEMRI) In the past two months, there have been increasing threats against the U.S. forces in Syria, emanating from the Syrian regime, its writers and its supporters. These threats escalated even further following the conflicting announcements made recently by the U.S. administration regarding the continued presence of its troops in Syria, and following the April 14 American-French-British attack on Syrian sites and military bases connected to the regime’s chemical-weapons capabilities.
The Popular Resistance in the Eastern Region, a pro-regime militia established in February 2018 to oppose the U.S. presence in Syria, claimed that it had fired mortar shells in recent weeks into an American base in the town of Ayn Issa in northeastern Syria, and on April 2, other regime supporters announced the establishment of a similar militia, also in the northeast of Syria, called the Popular Resistance in Hasaka, which they declared would undertake military action against the U.S. and Turkish presence in the country.
Liwa al-Bakr, a Shi’ite militia operating in Syria, likewise announced that it had launched military action against the American forces.
At the same time, the Syrian regime continues to stack up important achievements on the battlefield, the most recent being the takeover of the eastern Ghouta, and it is close to completing its takeover of the southern Damascus suburbs and of the eastern Qalamun suburb—all of which is making it confident of its ultimate victory and providing it with the confidence to speak out against the U.S. presence in Syria.
Therefore, the Syrian state press and pro-regime press continue to publish articles expressing threats of military action against the U.S.
In addition, following U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis’ April 26 statement that “the French reinforced us in Syria with special forces in the last two weeks,” and following reports of French forces entering northern and northeastern Syria, several articles have appeared in the Syrian press that also include threats against France.
This report reviews the threats directed at the U.S. forces in Syria by the popular resistance militias and in the Syrian press in recent weeks.
Popular Resistance in the Eastern region
As mentioned, various pro-regime militias in Syria have recently increased their threats against the U.S. forces in the country. On April 1, the Popular Resistance in the Eastern Region (also known as the Popular Resistance in Al-Raqqa) announced that it had fired two mortar shells at the headquarters of the U.S. forces south of the town of Ayn Issa, north of Al-Raqqa, which is apparently the first attack carried out by this body since it was established on Feb. 26. In an announcement it issued following the attack, the group vowed to continue “grinding down the American occupation forces wherever they are, until the Syrian land is completely purged of the American occupier.”
Four days later, on April 5, this group reported that it had carried out a rocket attack on the American headquarters in the French Lafarge cement factory in northwestern Ayn Issa, in response to the decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to maintain the U.S. military presence in Syria.
It should be noted, however, that the veracity of these claims remains unclear since they were not corroborated by any other source. The Popular Resistance in the Eastern Region posted alleged footage of the attacks, but there is no way to verify its authenticity. In addition, the Syrian Democratic Forces, allies of the United States in northeastern Syria, denied that the April 5 attack had taken place.
Popular resistance in Hasaka
Meanwhile, on April 2, it was announced that another militia, the Popular Resistance in Hasaka, had been established to act against the U.S. and Turkish presence in Syria.
The group’s founding announcement said: “In the name of the Syrian Arab people, we, the people of Al-Hasaka, the people of the authentic Arab identity, declare that we will wage resistance by every means against the American occupation and the Turkish occupation whose goals are [to maintain] long-term [presence in Syria], to carve up the country, rob its resources and assets, and incite sectarian extremism.
“Therefore, we have decided, we and every decent person in this country, to take military action against the occupation and to attack its bases, its movements, and its soldiers with an iron fist and to firmly refuse to be lenient with those who collaborate with it. This [is what we will do] until we have purged our land of their filth.
“We ask our fellow [Syrian] citizens not to go near their centers [the concentrations of U.S. and Turkish forces] and to stay away from their bases and their troops, which will be a target for the members of our resistance [forces] and the honorable people [of Syria]. We swear by Allah and by the homeland, the nation, and the savior and commander of the nation, President Bashar Al-Assad, that we will sacrifice all that is dear to us and that our souls will be the flame of liberation of our land, which has been defiled by the colonialists. The defense of this land is a privilege for us and not an obligation.”
The rest of this report can be read at MEMRI here.