Syrian MP: US decision to send troops is act of aggression – Albert Ajl/AP
DAMASCUS, Syria — The United States’ decision to send troops into Syria is an act of aggression because it does not have the government’s agreement, a Syrian member of parliament said Saturday.
Sharif Shehadeh told The Associated Press that the troops will have no effect on the ground, but that Washington wants to say it is present in Syria.
“What has happened to make America realize, after five years, that it should send between 30 and 50 military advisers?” asked Shehadeh, referring to the start of the country’s crisis in March 2011 that has since killed more than 250,000 people.
American officials say up to 50 special operations troops will be sent to assist Kurdish and Arab forces in northern Syria.
A U.S.-led coalition has been targeting the Islamic State group with airstrikes since September 2014, killing 12,000 extremists without weakening the group.
The decision to send U.S. troops to Syria comes a month after Russia began launching airstrikes against insurgents in the country. Russia’s airstrikes were agreed upon with the Syrian government.
“When America sends ground forces into Syrian territories without an agreement with the Syrian government it becomes an intervention and aggression,” Shehadeh said by telephone. “Will America allow Russian ground forces to go into America without an agreement? I think the answer is no.”
The U.S. has conducted special operations raids in Syria before and is expected to continue to carry out more unilateral raids.
The U.S. decision came as activists said some rebel groups, as well as the main U.S.-backed Kurdish militia known as the YPG, are preparing for an offensive against IS in its de facto capital of Raqqa. Earlier this month, U.S. cargo planes dropped small arms and ammunition to Arab groups fighting IS in northern Syria in what appeared to be preparation for the attack.
On Saturday, the Democratic Forces of Syria, a coalition of Arab, Christian and Kurdish factions in northern Syria, declared that they have started an operation to “liberate” areas south of the northeastern city of Hassekeh.
IS has several strongholds in the predominantly Kurdish province of Hassakeh that borders Iraq.
The announcement was carried by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and social media pages of rebel groups.
The Rebels Army group carried the statement from the coalition’s spokesman who goes by the name of Abu Ali as vowing to “cleanse Syria’s soil from the filth of terrorist groups.”