US Forces in Iraq and Syria Targeted Again

American forces are still stationed in regions where they were meant to have ended the “forever military conflicts.”

Most Americans might have difficulty recognizing the claimed mission of these troops.

Supposedly, the aim is to prevent a rebirth of the Islamic State (ISIS), but Iran is still a factor in government thought.

A Major Objective for America

Combating ISIS and Iran at the same time is incompatible. Both players have been on opposing sides of recent events in Iraq and Syria.

Iran provided the Iraqi authorities with the most foreign help in their fight against ISIS. It has also been one of the two main foreign sponsors of the Syrian government.

A few years ago, ISIS formed a de facto ministate across a vast region of western Iraq and northeast Syria. ISIS’s “caliphate” is gone.

From a US perspective, the greatest continuing worry about ISIS should be grudges the group might use in future terrorist attacks against the US.

The presence of foreign forces, notably the US presence in Iraq, has historically been perceived as a military occupation, a source of exploitable animosity.

During the Syrian civil war, the embattled Assad administration invited ISIS to show the world it was battling foreign terrorists.

The dictatorship has recovered from its earlier fragile status; it is now more focused on removing lingering holdouts to its power.

The Assad administration and ISIS are now active opponents on the battlefield.

The regime may also battle foreign terrorists because an al-Qaeda branch leads the major anti-regime rebel enclave in Idlib province.

It’s hard to understand how anti-regime US policies and the military presence in Syria aid counterterrorism.

Regarding Iran, retaining soldiers in Iraq ignores important Iraqi sentiments and politics.

Iraqi nationalism strongly rejects any foreign military involvement on Iraqi land, either east or the west. 

Danger to the Troops

The outcomes of the Iraqi parliament elections revealed in December last year reaffirm this.

The Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr triumphed against pro-Iranian militia forces. The US considered Al-Sadr an opponent during the 2003 insurgency, but he is now the main obstacle to Iranian dominance in Iraq.

Keeping US soldiers in Iraq and Syria has other expenses and hazards besides inciting terrorism and encouraging Iranians or Russians to stay.

Americans are in danger and may be injured. Thankfully, no Americans were killed in the latest attacks, but this has not always been the case.

Despite this danger, the US military frequently conceals its target. Pentagon officials refused to reveal who used the Syrian missile launch location.

Operation Inherent Resolve blamed “Iran-supported hostile actors” for the last attack on the US facility in Syria.

That one word, malign, dismisses the reasons why American troops are under fire, and suggests without proof the opponent is determined to damage the US no matter what.

The deployment of American forces in Iraq and Syria has become a fatal ice cube. They are meant to be combating an Iranian danger, yet the real threat is to the troops themselves.

This absurd logic does not justify keeping American forces in Iraq and Syria. They should return.