The Corner

National Security & Defense

The Syrian Meltdown Continues: American ‘Allies’ Are Now Fighting Each Other

Just when you think the situation in Syria can’t possibly grow worse, it does:

A limited ceasefire was supposed to take effect Friday in Syria, but there is no sign the fighting will stop.

In fact, it has become even more chaotic as some rebel groups backed by the United States are now attacking each other.

For the first time, a video appears to show Syrian rebels using an American-supplied missile against Kurdish fighters — who are also supported by the U.S.

The two groups are now battling for the same territory in northern Syria.

While it’s difficult to sort fact from fiction in any account of Syrian fighting, the best available reporting indicates that Pentagon-backed Kurdish rebels are now clashing with a CIA-backed Syrian rebel battalion for control of territory in Aleppo. A Buzzfeed news report put it well, America is now in a proxy war with itself.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating — while the Kurds have been our most stalwart allies in fighting ISIS, they are not the ultimate answer against ISIS. The Kurds will understandably pursue their own interests over American interests, and Kurdish interests can and do clash with competing Syrian factions.

In the absence of decisive western force, this is what we’re left with — competing militias sometimes helping, sometimes hurting, and no real prospects for a united front to oppose either ISIS or Assad. No wonder the one power with a true strategic vision — Putin’s Russia — has been able to make substantial gains even in spite of the Assad regime’s profound manpower limitations.

And in the meantime, the refugee crisis will continue (and perhaps worsen). The world continues to taste the bitter fruit of “leading from behind.”

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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