Somewhere in Syria (TFC) – More photos of clandestine American operators have surfaced from Syria’s war-torn heart. The unidentified unit, sources report, were sighted outside ISIS-controlled Raqqa. These latest photographs come as offensives in both Iraq and Syria launch to reclaim militant towns.
Unlike photographs taken months ago, the journalists responsible have been identified. RT Arabic correspondent Muhammad Hassan’s team reported seeing “dozens” of Americans during their trip to Syria. “They have the latest weapons and vehicles.” he says, according to RT. Hassan also described how “they, as well as soldiers from European countries” are involved in “battles” for Raqqa. Other photos circulated by RT were taken by Reuters journalists.
American involvement in Syria is even more obscure than their operations in Iraq. What’s known is that the US has attempted several rebel training programs in the country. One of these projects, called “Division 30”, was considered to be a failure after the group was wiped out. Officials claim subsequent projects also failed to produce effective fighting forces. Being that most “moderate rebels” have long eradicated, those involved in training programs are often hard-line jihadists.
Dozens of US operatives were deployed to Syria months ago, bolstering train-assist efforts. Combat, however, has been the elephant in the room for both Syria and Iraq. At least five Americans and one Canadian–mostly special forces–have been killed in Iraq since 2015. American military and private contractor casualties in Syria, however, are unknown.
The soldiers in the RT and Reuters photos are similar, but not identical to those months ago. Both units lack name tags and proper insignia. Although the previous unit wore a mix of Kurdish and American patches, this new squad lacks patches entirely. Despite this, they’re more “uniform” than the squad in the initial pictures. Their vehicles, in fact, appear to be the only thing they have in common with the prior squad. Unlike this recent release, whoever took the first photos of US forces inside Syria is essentially a ghost.
Fifth Column writers were able to get in contact with an ex-military contractor for comment on the photos. The individual, who specialized in special operations, readily identified the RT unit. “Delta boys”, he said, “US Army, top tier of Special Forces”. They, however, weren’t able to put a name to the unit from months ago.
British special forces operatives were also photographed recently in Syria. The operatives drove vehicles similar to those operated by their American counterparts. According to The Independent, those forces have been given an expansive kill list for militants. Many of the targets for this reaper campaign are reputedly British citizens.
The Islamic State currently is firmly entrenched in Iraq’s Mosul, and Syria’s Raqqa. Recent months have seen these towns assaulted by US-backed Syrian and Iraqi militia groups. Syria’s offensive is largely spearheaded by a rebel conglomeration dubbed “Syrian Democratic Forces”. SDF united powerful Kurdish rebel groups and local militias under one umbrella, aimed at ISIS.
Assad’s government, however, is still an ever-present force on the ground. What many forget is that ISIS is not only fighting other rebels, but also the government. The group, by definition, can be considered a “rebel force” seeking to seize the region. Bashar al-Assad, like Iraqi’s fighting ISIS simultaneously, has described the US as “not serious” in their ISIS fight.
The fights are further complicated by Russian operatives in Syria, and Turkish counterparts in Iraq. Whereas Assad’s government welcomed Russian aid, it has denounced US involvement. Assad has called US airstrikes “illegal”, asserting that jihad has only increased since they began.
Suspicions of conflicts between American and Russian ground operatives does little to improve the anxiety over the fray. Turkish operatives in Iraq, like Americans in Syria, have not been invited by the Iraqi government. What they’re doing is unknown, besides that operatives are based just outside Mosul.
Reports from both wars continue to get stranger as the months drag on. Things once considered conspiracy appear as near common occurrences, and questions moan haunting wails.
Following the first leaked special forces Syria photographs, rebels ran the unit out of town. Men in black hoods, photographed alongside US operatives, were also expelled by angered rebels. The fighters reputedly called the foreigners “dogs”, and threatened to slaughter them. It’s unknown what sparked the protest.
Similar black hooded men appeared in the first photo leak months ago. Despite being labeled as SDF, they don’t match the groups typical profile. Judging by their interactions in leaked video, they appear to be closer related to US spec ops than other militias.
A Fifth Column piece compared the men’s build and uniforms with those of Turkish special forces. Turkey has deployed troops to Iraq, and allowed rebels to be trained in their country by the US. Simultaneously, Turkish leadership have been staging a brutal crackdown on media.
Questions like these have sat ignored since ISIS took the world by surprise in 2015. Putting the dots together is one thing, but knowing is another. With very few western journalists left in either country, even doing that is difficult. Both Syria and Iraq are black holes which swallow anything and everyone nearby. Each anniversary they reach not only deepens the void, but gives more horrors time to gestate.