Residents concerned about U.S., Russia operations in Syria


DJ Ezell

David Lovejoy is a U.S. Army Veteran of Operation Desert Storm.

DJ Ezell, Reporter

The Russian military has gone on the offensive in Syria, launching airstrikes on supposed ISIS camps on Sept. 30. Russian officials asked U.S. planes to clear out of Syrian airspace but were rebuffed by the Pentagon.

The Pentagon has said the areas targeted were not ISIS camps, but camps to a U.S. supported rebel group.  The U.S. led coalition has accused the Russians of attacking civilians and groups who oppose the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.  The Russian government has denied bombing the wrong targets.

“We don’t want to be there, but we have no choice,” said David Lovejoy, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. “We broke that region in the last 15-20 years with some of our policies and now we’re stuck there.”

There is a lot of posturing by both sides of the coalition. The U.S. led coalition makes one claim, and the Russians refute it, claiming another.

“The only person who knows what they are really doing is Vladmir Putin,” said Dr. Brian Farmer, professor of Social Sciences at Amarillo College. “They will back al-Assad because he is loyal to Russia and the communist party.”

Many believe that the reason Syria is allied with Russia goes back to the Six-Day War in June 1967.

“Israel is Syria’s arch enemy and this goes back to the Six-day War when Israel took the Golan Heights from them,” said Pamela Hilliard, a WT alumni.

Tensions are high between the United States and Russia, the greatest they have been since the Cold War ended in 1991 with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“I am concerned that the tug-of-war fight over Syria could lead to hostilities down the line between the United States and Russia,” said Hilliard.

But not everyone is concerned about a possible war with Syria.

“If you look over the history of these types of conflicts when you have a third country involved with two world powers fighting over an area, the two bullies never want to fight each other,” said Lovejoy. “They will just let the little guys fight all day long over the scraps.”

The Russians have a vested interest in seeing President Bashar al-Assad remain in power because he is a loyal ally to them.

“The United States won’t sell weapons to Syria, so then who do you turn to? The other great supplier, Russia,” said Farmer. “Syria gave Russia a naval base on the Syrian coast so they both have something to lose if al-Assad falls.”

Many nations across the globe are chipping in to help the Syrian people, either through helping refugees, or sending military forces to the region. It leads some to wonder if maybe they will do more harm than good.

“Anytime you have bombs being dropped on people you have a chance to cause collateral damage,” said Hilliard. “If you believe the reports, a lot of civilians and children have already been killed in the airstrikes.”

The situation in Syria is unstable and it can end up effecting everyone in the world, as well as U.S. servicemen and women who are already in the region.

“The United States have forward positions in Syria,” said Lovejoy. “We have guys on the ground and they are putting them at risk.”