The US-led anti-ISIS coalition is building a new military base in Syria’s northern province of Raqqa, it was reported, citing a source close to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The US backs the SDF and keeps about 900 troops (officially at least) in eastern Syria, allowing the US to control about one-third of Syria’s territory. The report said there are currently about 24 US-led military sites spread throughout eastern Syria.
While the US says it’s in Syria to fight ISIS, the presence is part of Washington’s economic war against Damascus, which includes crippling economic sanctions. ISIS also holds no significant territory, and the Syrian government and its allies would continue to fight the remnants of the terror group if the US withdrew.
But the construction of a new base demonstrates the US plans to continue the occupation indefinitely. In March, the House voted down a resolution introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) that would have ordered President Biden to withdraw from Syria. The legislation failed in a vote of 103-321, with 56 Democrats and 47 Republicans voting in favour of the bill.
The House also recently voted to maintain sanctions on Syria after an earthquake killed thousands of Syrians. Only two members of Congress voted against the legislation.
The US could come under pressure to withdraw from Syria and lift sanctions on the country as more and more regional countries are normalizing ties with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Saudi Arabia spearheaded an effort to bring Syria back into the Arab League despite US objection.