Syria Is About To Go Pear Shaped

Samer Bouidani/DPA via ZUMA

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It looks like the Syrian/Russian attack on Idlib isn’t far off:

The Russian, Turkish and Iranian presidents convened Friday in Tehran in a high-stakes and apparently tense summit that promised to shape one of the final battles of the Syrian conflict and potentially determine the outcome of the war….Iran and Russia back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey supports the Syrian opposition.

…..But Putin on Friday rejected the Turkish leader’s call to halt the fighting. And this week, Russian warplanes carried out strikes on militant positions in at least one city in Idlib, a British-based war monitoring group said. It was unclear Friday whether the three leaders had agreed to tamp down the violence or whether a military assault was imminent.

Meanwhile:

Back in March, President Trump seemed to announce a new Syria policy without notifying anyone else in government. “We’re coming out of Syria, like, very soon,” he said. “Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon — very soon we’re coming out.”

….On Thursday James Jeffrey, a retired senior Foreign Service officer who was recently named Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “representative for Syria engagement,” told reporters there’s been a change of plans. “The new policy is we’re no longer pulling out by the end of the year,” he said. As the Washington Post explains, the Trump administration has adopted a broader mission that could keep troops in Syria indefinitely.

….Jeffrey said the U.S. is taking a tougher stance and will not tolerate an all-out attack on the region.

Great. Russia and Iran are almost certainly going to mount an all-out attack on Idlib. The US now says it will not “tolerate” this and plans to keep troops in Syria forever. I guess Trump learned nothing from Obama’s bobble on red lines in Syria.

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