Syrian leaders see opportunities and risks in U.S. striking ISIS


us airstrikes on isis iraq

Beirut, Lebanon- The fortunes of President Bashar al-Assad have suffered over the past two months, with battlefield setbacks and new signs of doubt emerging within his political base, as the civil war in Syria drags on with no end in sight.

Now, though, he and his inner circle believe they have been granted a reprieve — at least politically — by President Obama’s declarationthat he may strike in Syria against the extremist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, according to analysts and allies of the Syrian government who say they are in contact with officials in Damascus.

To Mr. Assad and his closest advisers, these people say, the American decision represents a victory for his longstanding strategy: obliterating any moderate opposition to his rule and persuading the world it faces a stark choice between him and Islamist militants who threaten the West.

But there are also worries in Damascus that the potential American strikes in Syria, part of a ramped-up campaign against ISIS, carry new risks. Pro-government analysts say that Syrian officials are unsure who would benefit militarily — government forces, or Syrian insurgents and separatist Kurds, who have also clashed with the foreign-led ISIS militants.

Neither the Syrian Army nor the Western-supported groups among the Syrian insurgents appear capable of taking immediate advantage of any weakening of ISIS in the eastern provinces bordering Iraq where it is strongest, Raqqa and Deir al-Zour.

The Syrian Army has little chance of retaking recently lost territory there, and appears to have virtually written off the east, said Amine Hoteit, a retired Lebanese general who is close to Syrian officials, some of whom he met with in Damascus last month.

Mr. Obama says new aid to Syrian insurgents that his administration has deemed relatively moderate will allow them to act as a ground force against ISIS; he has ruled out sending American troops. But efforts to arm and train them will take time, and it is unclear whether they will be more successful than past efforts that have failed to produce an effective and unified force.

Yezid Sayigh, a military analyst at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, said that made it unlikely that the United States would soon launch more than limited and carefully selected strikes against ISIS, such as against desert convoys. The group’s fighters in Raqqa have lately melted away into the population, increasing the risk that strikes there would kill civilians, perhaps rallying support to ISIS.

Syrian insurgents are stronger near ISIS positions further west in Aleppo Province. But so is the Syrian Army, so hitting ISIS there could also benefit Mr. Assad, which Mr. Obama is loath to do.

“So unless the U.S. successfully kills key ISIS commanders in Syria,” Mr. Sayigh said, “its military impact will be limited there in the short and possibly medium term.”

Another view, a Damascus journalist with a pro-government media outlet said in a phone interview, is that the American campaign will have little impact on the ground. Many in the government believe the campaign was designed for political reasons to show that the United States is acting against ISIS and that the first step in any serious effort would be forcing Turkey, an American ally and NATO member, to stop the flow of ISIS fighters across its borders.

Military impact aside, each side hopes to gain politically. The prospect of American strikes comes just as Mr. Assad’s government has been facing unprecedented public criticism from supporters, who have complained on social media and in interviews that it allowed the extremists to run rampant, and recently staged a rare demonstration in Damascus demanding stronger action to release hostages held by extremists.

Mr. Obama’s decision has reinvigorated core members of Mr. Assad’s inner circle who believe that he faces less and less pressure to compromise, and that the West will eventually ally with him against ISIS, Syrian journalists and analysts say. For fear of retribution, all the Syrians interviewed requested anonymity.

Yet Mr. Assad presides over a country that is physically divided and psychologically depleted. Two months ago, he was riding higher than at any time since early 2012, having consolidated control of the country’s strategic spine, which runs from Damascus to the coast. But those gains, and the morale they built, now appear less solid.

Lightning advances by ISIS routed soldiers from three bases in Raqqa over the summer, sending them fleeing into the desert and leaving many government supporters incensed that the army did not send more reinforcements.

Video of an attack on the Tabaqa air base shows soldiers fleeing, apparently unarmed, into the desert, and being gunned down by ISIS fighters.

The images have been widely shared in Syria, shocking government supporters who are used to seeing the army portrayed in a heroic light; montages on state television regularly show troops marching in disciplined rows and rappelling down walls to a triumphal soundtrack.

“If we lose more areas, we will be doomed,” a 31-year-old professional, long a strong government supporter, said in a phone interview from the coastal city of Tartus. “After three years the army is tired and depleted.”

“We are playing on the edge and sitting on a volcano,” she said, asking that her name be withheld to avoid retribution from either side. “Many people who love and respect Assad are mad at him now. Their patience has come to the end.”

She said that her cousin, a soldier, had been jailed for three weeks after he talked on base about recent defeats. Five pro-government activists were detained recently after launching a social media campaign about missing soldiers called “Where Are They.” Others boldly defended them online as “patriotic.”

Still, the Tartus woman and many other government supporters say they see no alternative to Mr. Assad to protect them from ISIS.

Yet United States officials and some allied Western diplomats say they hope that American strikes on ISIS, along with new aid to non-ISIS insurgents who would be pressured to adopt a moderate agenda, could ease fears among government supporters, especially in the minority Alawite sect that forms Mr. Assad’s base. They hope that, in turn, could reassure influential Alawites enough to inspire them, or Mr. Assad’s main allies, Iran and Russia, to pressure him to step aside or share power.

But among other Western diplomats, including many long relocated to Beirut from Damascus, there is a sense of dejection and a belief that the new focus on ISIS has derailed what was left of Western political will to oust Mr. Assad or foster a political compromise any time soon. Asked if Western governments would now expend much energy on those projects, one replied, “Absolutely not. It’s over, I’m sorry to say.”

Some Syrian officials hold a less sanguine view than Mr. Assad and his inner circle do of his political and military strength, a well-connected pro-government political analyst said recently. He said they believe negotiations with relatively moderate Syrian insurgents are unavoidable, and that some chafe at the growing influence in Syria of Iran and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia which is fighting alongside Mr. Assad’s troops in Syria.

But he said they have little influence with real decision-makers, increasingly limited to Mr. Assad’s family members, who include powerful security officials and businessmen, and continue to reject any compromise that could loosen their hold on power.

“Will they reach the point where they say this is the best deal they can make and it’s time?” he said. “They are very stubborn. I am not optimistic.”

Some allies of Mr. Assad remain convinced that, as Syrian officials have long predicted, the international community will eventually quietly seek his government’s intelligence cooperation against ISIS.

“If you don’t,” a member of Hezbollah familiar with his group’s thinking said, addressing the United States, “it raises a question of whether you really want to hit it.” But, he added, “Even if you don’t coordinate,” any strikes against ISIS would “help the regime.”

The Syrian government has volunteered to participate in the anti-ISIS coalition as long as it works with Mr. Assad. But Mr. Obama has ruled out such cooperation. The Syrian government says American airstrikes in Syria without its consent would violate its sovereignty.

Syrian officials are confident in their control of the part of the country most important to them, the corridor from Damascus north to the coastal cities, General Hoteit said. Currently home to between 7 million and 10 million people, he said, that territory would allow the state to function indefinitely.

But key swaths of the country remain contested, including the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, divided between the government and non-ISIS insurgents, and Damascus suburbs like Douma, where video on Sunday showed children wounded in heavy government airstrikes.

As for the east, General Hoteit said, “The regime doesn’t care much about Raqqa.”

NY Times



69 responses to “Syrian leaders see opportunities and risks in U.S. striking ISIS”

  1. The opportunity for the Syrian leaders is to misguide USA in Bombing the Syrian rebel just as they do by leaving the ISIS stronghold safe and bomb the FSA/Islam Brigade. If USA rely on Iran and the Assad regime to identify the bombing location then we will surely find that the target is the FSA/Islam Brigade. The Risk is if the Syrian regime are caught red handed aiding the ISIS then USA may bomb the Assad regime. Well in any case Iran and Assad will be exposed operating Al-Qaeda/ISIS, its a matter of time.

  2. There are 3 tumors in the Middle East… Zionists, Islamists, and Assadists… Somehow their goals are common.

    1. TheUSequalsTheIS Avatar

      zionists and islamists will be in the region as long they enjoy full support from the americans… and as long as these crazy ppl r there assad will be there to counter their crraziness

      1. Support for zionists? of course but ISIS was invented by Assad.

        1. Anti ISIS Avatar

          ISIS was invented by Assad, interesting. Is that a theory Hannibal or have you got some solid proof. Because thus far, nobody has been able to provide proof. Only what the media tells us.

          1. $89733098 Avatar

            Of course if almanar or presstv or sana doesn’t tell u then u can’t trust the media. Assad of course would never do something like creating terrorist. Assad is a family man who is a Good Samaritan, he takes in injured birds and tries saving them. Just like u would never hurt a female.

          2. Anti ISIS Avatar

            I love when you talk dirty.

          3. $89733098 Avatar

            Hey Einstein what was dirty about it oh dear abuser of a dead female!!
            Lol didn’t take u long to respond. Haha cars too boring for u!? Hail Ali! In my wii

          4. It can be as simple as you want it to be:
            Let us start by the adage: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.
            Assad is ecstatic to see the Islamic State fight the FSA…

            Do we agree on that? 😉

          5. Anti ISIS Avatar

            There is a point in your argument Hannibal. I do agree that it does benefit Assad for the two to fight eachother. However I really don’t believe Assad invented ISIS for the simple reason ISIS are a fanatical sunni group who have made no secret about wanting to wipe out the Alawites. Starting with Assad himself. I could be wrong, however I really believe this to be the case. I also beleive ISIS are a product of the US. Again I could be wrong. Have a look below at the leader of ISIS and who he meet with over a year ago.

          6. Yup… I do not see him cutting his head but the heads of innocent Lebanese soldiers.
            That being said Assad is a tyrant and a murderer… He is bad news EVEN to his own sect. I wish someone can prove me wrong and I will apologise in Public and in person to Assad 😉

          7. Anti ISIS Avatar

            This is the thing Hannibal, nobody can prove it either way.

          8. $89733098 Avatar

            “nobody can prove it either way.”

            What did I tell u Hannibal?

          9. $89733098 Avatar

            Did u get that from sana?

            “ISIS are a fanatical sunni group who have made no secret about wanting to wipe out the Alawites. ”

            Was this b4 or after ur dictator lover bought oil of them?
            Or was it after the dictator didn’t attack isis while he was wiping out Sunni towns?
            And of course the Ali freaks LOVE Sunnis. Just like u LOVE Sunnis. U truly must b a child.

          10. Anti ISIS Avatar

            Love how you speak shit without giving proof. I challenge you to prove to me where you got that info from. Tell me Barabie, who told you Assad was buying oil from them. You Cleric.

          11. $89733098 Avatar

            Lol what’s the point of proving anything to an ape like? U will only spew the following “we will never know. Can’t trust the media blah blah blah”. U r a robot that has certain lines programmed in that empty skull.

          12. Anti ISIS Avatar

            Typical shit talker, no proof just abuse. Lol you scum bag.

          13. $89733098 Avatar

            Oh relax u ape. Yes I know u will start abusing my dead mother. Lol thank u for showing what a low life scum bucket u r.

          14. Anti ISIS Avatar

            Well you little bitch, maybe you should never have abused my family first. Like you do to everybody else you don’t agree with. PIG

          15. $89733098 Avatar

            Ooh the proof is there where u abused my partner first u stupid ape

          16. Anti ISIS Avatar

            God your full of shit, you abuse everybody you don’t agree with. You started this first Barabie. Oh and btw, I highly doubt you have a partner. I mean you spend all day on this blog. When do spend quality time with this so called partner of yours. And blow dolls don’t count as humans either.

          17. $89733098 Avatar

            Lmfao whether u believe I have a partner or not doesn’t mean anything to me. Shouldn’t u b in bed u child?
            Btw retard u def started this first. I can always bring up ur comment where u started first.
            Or is this like Assad working with Isis, “we will never know”???
            Honestly u r so dumb.

          18. Anti ISIS Avatar

            Well come on, bring them up. Oh that’s right. You can’t prove shit, as usual.

          19. $89733098 Avatar

            I promise u when I’m at the desktop I will.

          20. Anti ISIS Avatar

            Blah blah blah

          21. Anti ISIS Avatar

            I tell you what Barabie, if you can prove it, I will apologise and never do it again. And if you can’t, then you will need to apologise and stop abusing me and everybody else.

          22. $89733098 Avatar

            I’m not forgiving u again. U have gone into the dustbin with daft mate and the Good Samaritan. Btw geo tried doing u a favour by getting u to ignore me and talk about cars. He tried saving u from yourself coz every time we converse I end up exposing u and making u look like the uneducated baboon u truly r. .
            THAT we do know about u and I assure u I didn’t need almanar for that

          23. 5thDrawer Avatar

            So, Malmucker IS your partner? Or, you are Malmucker ??
            (have I lost track of all this ?? )

          24. $89733098 Avatar

            Wtf? No! David is my baby.

          25. $89733098 Avatar

            Here’s ur proof bitch!

          26. Anti ISIS Avatar

            You moron, we have been going at it a lot longer than that. Lol, you truly are an idiot. As for forgiving me, lol. You really think you are relevant to me don’t you. Barabie, you are a scum, plain and simple.

          27. $89733098 Avatar

            Lol u r SO predictable.

          28. $89733098 Avatar

            “God your full of shit”
            Yes ur god is full of shit. Btw u uneducated baboon, learn the diff between your and you’re. U r so uneducated.

          29. Anti ISIS Avatar

            Very typical of you. Picking on the smallest things. You are so shallow Barabie. As for me being uneducated. Lol. I tell you what, I’m not doing to bad for a person who’s uneducated. Semi retired at 40 with two successful business and with another in process of being opened. I can see you aren’t employed spending day and night on blog. What else can you expect from a person who lives out west. Enjoy the tax I pay, you doll blugger.

          30. $89733098 Avatar

            “Doll blugger”

            Lmfao. Is that how they speak in the ghetto u live in?
            Btw wtf is a doll blugger????
            Hahahaha. U r too easy


          31. Anti ISIS Avatar

            Lol, you know precisely what you are. Hahahahahaha

          32. $89733098 Avatar

            That makes sense u “doll blugger”

          33. $89733098 Avatar

            “Picking on the smallest things.”

            Wtf? I never brought up ur penis size.

          34. Now read this:


            I am certain Assad is no Sunni lover but he is a hyena who knew what Islamists were capable of…
            Releasing the jailed Islamists was a good step in his planned direction…
            Now is the West trying to use the ISIS rise to enter the Syrian quagmire? Absolutely!!!

          35. $89733098 Avatar

            Stop wasting ur time on that lost cause. Unless the “news” comes from its beloved sana or almanar this fool won’t believe it. U can not make the deaf dumb and blind see, hear or speak.
            In fact farqed up reminds me of the following ape.

          36. 5thDrawer Avatar

            Believe it. Conditioning.
            Read ‘The Gulag Archipelago’ to understand ‘jail time’ and the type of people who can survive especially those kinds of jails – and which thrive in them.
            (I think Lebanon has one … with prisoners never charged after years, let alone tried for their ‘crimes’.)(See ‘Mexico’ jail time …)(Etc …)
            (Conditioning … as a Viet Kong prisoner in a hole in the ground for long time alone, with the same minimal food-stuff … ask a Frenchman who was there ..)

        2. TheUSequalsTheIS Avatar

          thx for the joke 🙂

      2. $89733098 Avatar

        U truly r as disgusting as farqed up or old broom or daft mare

        1. TheUSequalsTheIS Avatar

          u think i care about what u think of me?

  3. Reasonableman Avatar

    Any action which does not involve the removal of ASSad the dictator is a wasted action.
    The purpose of not involving AYRan or ASSad in the coalition was because of their terrorist activities and so long as they are present there will always be division and war.
    America and majority muslim sunni states agree that ISIS is evil so let those who are familiar with ISIS defeat them.
    If ISIS is weakened or defeated the genocide and marginalization by the Axis of evil will only pave way for more roughed up extremists and eventually even the christians will be targets of marginalization and genocide.
    Any complete or even half bake attempts at ISIS will bolster the regime with new weapons and only widen issues with the detatched majority.
    So if you thought ISIS were bad prepare for the next gen.

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar

      Oh, yes Reasonable … they could even be Capitalists. :-)))

      1. Reasonableman Avatar

        Iran is egging on the ANTI ISIS coaltion.
        It does not want to stop the bombing neither does it want to be involved.
        it lives and capitalises on chaos.
        Sort of like when you were young 5th the girl that egged you on and told you that you cannot kiss to the point it made you start making out with an apple 🙂

        1. 5thDrawer Avatar

          Ah, yes …. the old ‘Blue Balls’ treatment … I remember one friend at a party … girl sat in his lap kissing him for 3 hours … then left. We had to help him out of the place and into a cab. Exquisite torture … we were envious … and all he could say was: ‘That Bitch!’. :-)) Chaos of the mind.

          1. Reasonableman Avatar

            5th drawer, please do not swear Geos’ birds can hear you!!

            And woooh I feel pain just thinking about it.

  4. MekensehParty Avatar

    When the US will start bombing IS the minorities will simply realize that it is the US that is protecting them from IS and not the regime (who actually did nothing but loose against IS). So as soon as these strikes begin Assad and all his friends are going to loose this fake reputation of protectors since the real protectors are up in the skies hammering barabie’s cousins. Hopefully the strikes will make the minorities rethink their allegiances now that someone is guaranteeing their safety. Maybe they’ll be clever enough to overthrow Assad and join forces with other Syrians fighting IS… or probably not, bel rouh bel dam….

    1. $89733098 Avatar

      Ur sad that all u do is spew ur propaganda without ever providing proof. And just like farqed up every time u r presented with facts u run away with ur tail between ur legs. Ur cousins the rapists and murderers like “Green” r the Air Force of the shite terrorists who got us to where we r now. It’s hilarious how minorities like the Jews and shites tell u what to do. But of course u wouldn’t be doing anything unless u were benefitting from it like the opportunistic capitalist greedy pig u r.

      1. MekensehParty Avatar

        Proof of what? What facts are you talking about?
        How about the fact that women of all ages are being sold as sex toys on the markets of Mosul by your cousins? Or the fact that they are cutting heads in front of cameras? Or, chief among all facts is that they brainwashed your little girl’s brain to defend them?
        So what proof do you want hypocrite?

        1. $89733098 Avatar

          See there u go lying again! Proof honey!
          Not ur typical Yankee propaganda!!
          Show me where I’ve defended ANY terrorist, including yanks!!
          If u r going to lie then make sure u don’t get caught.

        2. $89733098 Avatar

          Funny how rape by ur cousins didn’t affect u

        3. 5thDrawer Avatar

          [pssstt … Mekenseh … are those female cousins ?? Just asking … 😉 😉 😉 ]

          1. $89733098 Avatar

            SGT Paul E. Cortez, (II) SPC James P. Barker, (III) PFC Jesse V. Spielman, (IV) PFC Brian L. Howard, and (V) PFC Steven D. Green

            Those r his cousins. Some of them anyway. Plenty more rapists and terrorists related to the old broom

          2. 5thDrawer Avatar

            ouchie …

          3. MekensehParty Avatar

            …said IS’s mouthpiece

          4. $89733098 Avatar

            Thank u for proving u r nothing but a lying propaganda spreading shill.

          5. MekensehParty Avatar

            Harim? how many do you want? with every two barabies you get one for free in the Islamic Capital.

          6. 5thDrawer Avatar

            (watching retirement income …) I’ll take the freebee. ;-)))

          7. MekensehParty Avatar

            I’d rather cut it…. 🙂

          8. 5thDrawer Avatar

            LOL …
            By the way, here’s one all ‘the folks’ will like 😉

          9. $89733098 Avatar

            U and ur sniping will never change

  5. 5thDrawer Avatar

    “Still, the Tartus woman and many other government supporters say they see no alternative to (Mr.) Assad to protect them from ISIS.” Sad what conditioning can do, even after seeing their army run away without the weapons and getting shot anyway. Fighting to the last man standing seems a lost concept … even though it would be a definitive statement.

  6. The Current and Future World System:
    DAJJAL System, is an evil concept or mission (Anti-God and his commandments) which is already implemented and functioning. It’s being carried out by a powerful group, not by one country but almost every country of the world.
    DAJJAL, a powerful leader whose string will be controlled by the Zionists and its allies who will be the leader of this group.

    DAJJAL with “one eye” means “new world order”. This concept works only in one direction. For example, whatever the Zionists says “is the law”. No question, no argument. Hence this is considered the “one eye order”.

    If you compare the current situation of this world, it’s clearly understood what is DAJJAL system and who are its followers. This is the first time in the history of this world where all so-called civilized but in fact criminal minded people joined hands together to fight against God and his commandments. All former enemies joined together (Russia, China, India, Japan, Germany, virtually all so-called “Muslim States” (on top of that list is Iran) with DAJJAL, living aside their differences. They changed their constitution if it becomes an obstacle to join DAJJAL (Example: Germany, Japan – were not permitted by their constitution to send their troops overseas).

    Support for DAJJAL is not only within the Governments, but you may notice the attitude of the newspapers (even media from so-called Muslim countries), television, radio, entertainment & music industry, and all other media are supporting DAJJAL by providing one-sided stories and promoting the evil concept/system.

    DAJJAL, was predicted to rain-down fire to its enemy and throw food to its supporters. This is exactly that was happening. DAJJAL planes are throwing bombs (fire) and food side-by-side, one for the enemy and the other for “friends”.

    Egyptian Mythology/Gods – One Eye/New World Order

    Please, It’s all imagination of mind and not real.

    1. MekensehParty Avatar

      The Dajjal is he who names himself the Caliph

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