Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 08, 2018

Syria - Is The ISIS Attack On Abu Kamal Part Of A U.S. Plan?

The people in Syria and Iraq believe that the Islamic State (ISIS) is an instrument the U.S. uses for its own purposes. A new ISIS attack on Syrian government forces today will deepen these beliefs.

Since November 2017 the U.S. and its proxy forces in north-east Syria did absolutely nothing against ISIS in east Syria north of the Euphrates. U.S. air strike were stopped and ISIS's territorial hold did not change one bit.

In February local tribal forces aligned with the Syrian government crossed the Euphrates from south to north in order to attack the ISIS pocket and to take control of an oilfield. The U.S. claimed that its Kurdish SDF proxy forces were attacked by the Syrian government aligned group. Curiously no one on the side of the U.S. and its proxies was hurt at all. Soon a large number of U.S. air support assets arrived and bombed the Syrian group to smithereens. 

ISIS in the northeastern pocket is the justification for the continuing U.S. occupation. But when Syrian government forces attacked those ISIS forces the U.S. claimed that only its forces were there. On June 6, six months after the U.S. had stopped attacking ISIS,  U.S. Secretary of Defense Mattis finally announced that U.S. proxies forces had again taken up the fight:

48 hours ago, the SDF, the coalition force and -- advising the Syrian Democratic Force, recommenced their offensive against one of the last remaining pockets of ISIS.

There have been no reports yet of these new attacks against ISIS.

According to Mattis the offense re-started on June 4. Just the night before the restart of the U.S. operation several hundred well rested ISIS fighters crossed the Euphrates towards the south and attacked the Syrian government forces on the southern side.


They shortly interrupted traffic on the road between Deir Ezzor city and Abu Kamal on the Syria-Iraq border and then hid away in some local farms.

Last night these forces reemerged, moved southeast and attacked the border city Abu Kamal:

ISIS used at least 10 suicide bombers on Friday in a massive attack on Albu Kamal, in which they retook parts of the eastern Syrian town, a monitor said.

At least 25 government and allied fighters were killed in the offensive, the militant group’s largest in months, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The border crossing between Abu Kamal in Syria and its sister city Al Qaim in Iraq is the only open road connection between the government held parts of Syria and Iraq.


The other main crossing further southwest is al-Tanf which is illegally occupied by U.S. forces.

There is sneaking suspicion that the U.S. directed the ongoing ISIS attack on Abu Kamal to gain control over the crossing and to disable road supplies from Iran through Iraq into Syria. Such suspicion is reinforced when U.S. military analysts openly muse about the new possibilities the ISIS move creates:

Nicholas A Heras @NicholasAHeras - 16:35 UTC - 8 Jun 2018
If the #Assad Alliance loses #AlbuKamal near the #Syrian / #Iraqi border to #ISIS will #CJTFOIR working with the #SDF try to take it? The US zone in E #Syria could spread by osmosis, but does #Trump want that when he's trying to get out of and not deeper in Syria? 🤔 #Daesh #Iran

ISIS crosses the Euphrates and takes Abu Kamal. The U.S. then 'attacks ISIS' in Abu Kamal and takes over the border town. It would thereby hold both main road crossings between the government held parts of Syria and Iraq. The much feared "Iranian corridor" from Tehran to Beirut would be interrupted. Syria's economic exchange with Iraq would continue to be hampered. The U.S. would gain 'leverage' for further 'regime change' negotiations.

That sounds like a plan.

The U.S. must be given no chance to use the ISIS pretext to take Abu Kamal. The Syrian government must rush to support its forces in the border city. It must immediately request that Iraqi forces cross the border from Al-Qaim and support the endangered Syrian troops.

A loss of the crossing would be catastrophic and prolong the ongoing war.

Posted by b on June 8, 2018 at 18:39 UTC | Permalink


A month or two ago senior US officials convened a press conference and singled out Abu Kamal as a location of interest for US forces in the near future. So this move had been foreshadowed previously.

Posted by: jayc | Jun 8 2018 18:52 utc | 1

Russian bombers from RF and Iran worked this area and north at al Mayadin as well as Deir ez Zor. They know the route there.
I suspect that Tu-22M3 bombers and Kalibrs will be changing the facts on the ground soon.

Also, the Iraqis have bombed there and sent PMUs to fight for al Kamal previously.

There should be coordination on ISIS soon.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Jun 8 2018 19:25 utc | 2

I doubt if the land route between Iran and Syria has much importance. Are there any stories about its being used? There are not many Iranian troops in Syria. Why would they need it?

Posted by: Laguerre | Jun 8 2018 19:33 utc | 3

The tweet from @NicholasAHeras is funny. Why do people (still) put faith in statements from Trump and other government officials? (Is he being sarcastic? I can't tell.)

US government (Mattis?) has said that they will remain in Syria until they get the result they want. How many in the US/West actually know that?

LOL. We get the same sort of half-truth statements on Yemen and elsewhere from our faux populist political leaders. Ingrained cognitive biases (i.e. myths reinforced by propaganda) so sheeple only hear the happy talk.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 8 2018 19:36 utc | 4

The Ramadan pause is proving to be costly for Syria, just as the other uncompleted offensives that preceded it. Clearly, some higher ranks need to be replaced, within both SAA and Russian command. Also, there's clearly nothing to gain from the continuing appeasement of the Outlaw US Empire--its forces must be pushed out of Syraq, by force if necessary. Ramadan ends June 14. The Daraa offensive is slated to start as soon as Ramadan ends.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 8 2018 19:55 utc | 5

Abu Kamal was the only reason for the US to leave the so called ISIS pocket on the east bank of the Euphrates. Mobilizing it now is perhaps to divert Syrian forces from the upcoming southern offensive.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jun 8 2018 19:55 utc | 6

ISIS's new role is interesting. They are clearly not contending for Syria any longer but their presence provides an excuse for US forces to remain. And they can take limited actions (like this attack) to further the Assad must go! agenda.

At the highest levels of ISIS leadership, I think there was always collusion with KSA and possibly other countries. But I think many ISIS recruits and many ISIS supporters (mostly in Saudi Arabia) were fanatics that would be very angry if they connected the dots and understood how they were used. Yet we see very little "blow back" (so far).

The way that the change in role has been managed is fascinating. I wrote about the ISIS transition and it's possible connection to the election of Trump in the Week in Review/Open Tread @147 and also @151.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 8 2018 19:56 utc | 7

Did US forces attempt to take Kamal but SAA won the "race"?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 8 2018 19:58 utc | 8

5 contd--

Yes, to answer b's question. Daesh was and remains an Outlaw US Empire asset, which is a Zionist asset, and of course promotes Zionist friendly policy goals such as interdicting the Shia Crescent.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 8 2018 20:05 utc | 9

The position there is a bit strange. The SDF forces there are Sunni Arab tribals, whose loyalty is doubtful, and need to be bombed in to make an attack. The Rojavan Kurds wouldn't be interested down there, apart from the oil fields. And probably they don't expect to keep them.

On the other hand, the Syrians are probably over-extended at the end of their supply-lines, and rather weak. Likely this last as the reason for ISIS success, supported or not by the US.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jun 8 2018 20:10 utc | 10

@8 type: should be "Didn't"

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 8 2018 20:16 utc | 11

If there was a poll for the question in the headline, I'd vote Yes.

Posted by: worldblee | Jun 8 2018 20:30 utc | 12

I wouldn't expect a big response from Russia. There's been talk Putin made a deal with Netanyahu in order to get better relations with the US. It seems it could be true as the bad Russia rhetoric has toned down. Trump even mentioned giving Russia a seat at the G7 and You don't hear a peep from the Russian MOD. All's quiet on the Russian front. Everyone knows the US never ever keeps its word BUT it will so long as it is returning value.

Posted by: ken | Jun 8 2018 20:39 utc | 13

Daesh driven from al-Bukamal. Item begs the question: Who's watching crossing points on Euphrates?!? This would reinforce my above questioning the ability of higher command.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 8 2018 22:05 utc | 14

the usa is israels protectorate... what else is knew? they use isis, al qaeda, or whoever - when needed.. too bad how low the usa-uk and etc have sunk, but alas - anyone can see this for what it is.. thanks b...

Posted by: james | Jun 8 2018 22:26 utc | 15

“Putin made a deal with Netanyahu …”

Better said, they have an understanding with one another. On Ukraine, Israel has taken a neutral stand to the chagrine of the US and allies.

Recently, to avoid an air war, Israel and Russia agreed that no Iranians would fight in the South to remove Al Nusra terrorists. Israel would attack Iranian troops getting too close to the Golan Heights. Putin and Netanyahu seemed to agree on this issue, therefore the SAA will have to increase its troops in the South.

Too many fronts, and an extended army becomes vulnerable for about any attack. The Russian Air Force would have to become involved for full support.

Erdogan of Turkey got the Kurdish YPG to move out of Manbij in the North so the Turks can control a larger swat of their border from the Syrian side. Deal was made with the United States.

Saudi King Salman threatens to wage war on Qatar over possible S-400 deal

Posted by: Oui | Jun 8 2018 22:27 utc | 16

Without Russia and Iran backing Syria up in a major way the Balkanization of Syria , which is already well underway will proceed to the Empires planned state . Assad may stay in power, or not, but only over a limited geographical territory without peace or economic stability. Turkey, Israel, US, Kurds all get to hold on to their share of the prize. Russia keeps its foot in an ever shrinking Syria but wearing slippers instead of a boot, and Iran may lurk in the shadows in a nightgown to avoid Israels missiles that they launch without fear of consequences

Operation Yinon Plan will soon move on to the next stage. Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Iran......

Posted by: Pft | Jun 8 2018 23:11 utc | 17

The belief in the omnipotence of Israel, like the idea that the US always wins is incomprehensible.
Putting aside the weird gratifications of the sadist what exactly has Israel achieved in the past half century? It has put an end to US hopes for hegemony; its only 'gain' is the alliance it has forged with the kleptocrats in the gulf.
Israel kills thousands and persuades the US to kill millions but to what profit? It remains a sliver of polluted exhausted land, almost indefensible, hated by its neighbours and most of humanity. Its only achievement is to have made war permanent in the region.
Those who believe that Putin is allying Russia with Israel might want to explain what possible benefit such an alliance could be to Russia.

Posted by: bevin | Jun 9 2018 1:33 utc | 18

As Paveway4 has stated on many occasions FUKUS is coordinating with ISIS to control Southern Syria and ultimately take the T4 pumping station.

The ultimate goal is to transport Syrian oil to Israel vie this route while cutting off the transportation route from Iran to Lebanon!!!

Posted by: Krollchem | Jun 9 2018 1:55 utc | 19

I am not a military determinist, there are a lot of variables at play, but, at risk of sounding like a broken record...Russia is the inferior military power, especially in the Syrian Theatre. They cannot currently force iFUKUS out of Syria. This is a situation that can only be finessed over the long-term. It seems a lot of analysis misses that fact.

Posted by: Jason | Jun 9 2018 2:28 utc | 20

Looks like this is over - AMN is reporting that the SAA has driven ISIS out of Albukamal and is now in full control of the city and controls the ground to the Euphrates.
Suggests that ISIS no longer has the ability to consolidate any gains it makes so they're resorting to guerrilla-style hit and run tactics and not attempting to make any serious attempt to hold ground. Also demonstrates the force-multiplier that SVBIEDs and individual suicide fighters are.
On balance, I'd suggest US military leaders are too stupid to come up with effective plan to capture Albukamal

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jun 9 2018 3:29 utc | 21

"That sounds like a plan."

More like wishful thinking. No, at best this merely serves as a distraction from the upcoming campaign to retake syrias southwest, from the border with Jordan and all the way to the occupied golan heights. It happened before with Aleppo and elsewhere; the paid mercenaries struggle in the west --> paid mercenaries in the east ratch up their activities as a relief effort (and vice versa).

There is no ISIS.

Posted by: never mind | Jun 9 2018 4:25 utc | 22

The belief in the omnipotence of Israel

bevin shows a hand at last?

who has dared to defy them? and where are they?

Posted by: mena | Jun 9 2018 4:39 utc | 23

Coincidentally, ISIS also mounted a major offensive against SAA forces in areas surrounding Humiemeh Northeast of Palmyra. According to FARS "Tens of terrorists were killed and dozens more were injured during the Syrian army's operations in provinces across Syria."

Somehow FUKUS didn't support the ISIS forces with air attacks as in most ISIS attacks in the past. Did the cross border air attacks against ISIS by Iraqi F-16 stop FUKUS air launched attacks against the SAA?

Posted by: Krollchem | Jun 9 2018 7:18 utc | 24

Vanessa Beeley has an article up at RT.COM about the families especially the mothers of the SAA dead. This indicates that there are many staunch supporters of the Syrian government throughout Syria, and this set me thinking. Where are the bog-standard roadside IEDs in Syria that were such a feature of the post-invasion war in Iraq? No videos of them being used by the jihadists and few reports of them except when jihadists are killed in the areas they control. The thing about bog-standard IEDs is that they're only really effective when the locals don't support the faction the targets represent, so that the jihadists haven't been able to use them while associates of the government have suggests to me that there is far more support for Assad in Syria than anyone in the western MSM is prepared to admit. The number of people who actually bothered to go out and vote in government elections and the proportion of locals who have stayed behind after the terrorists have been bused to Idlib tells us this as well.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jun 9 2018 8:22 utc | 25

There was a report about an Iraqi air attack on Al Hajin 20km from Abu Kamal .

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Jun 9 2018 9:10 utc | 26

The name of the town is al-Bu Kamal, not Abu Kamal.

Posted by: Goran | Jun 9 2018 13:10 utc | 27

@24 Even SOHR is saying the attack on al-Bu Kamal was by ISIS, not moderate rebels or SDF or Kurds. So presumably if they got US air support it would be too obvious. The US missed a great opportunity to take out a few jihadis though.

Posted by: dh | Jun 9 2018 14:01 utc | 28

Syriana Analysis made a similar point in a June 4 video.

If the area ISIS has is so small and so convenient to US/"allied" forces, why haven't ISIS been finished off?

Posted by: Curtis | Jun 9 2018 15:44 utc | 29

bevin #18 Nice summary of what is going on. There is so much nonsense in these comments that Israel is controlling events in SW Asia. Their ability to do so become less with every passing year. Their war with Hezbollah in 2006 was a game changer. Israel has the power to react, to provoke, to push the US into stupid moves but no longer has the power to determine events or even outcomes of events they react to.

Jason #20. Your comment is obviously true. Russia in Syria is extremely exposed and simply do not have sufficient forces there to take on the US in a war in that theater. They are forced to act very carefully and to use those 'deconfliction' talks to avoid direct conflict with US forces. I for one will not second guess their diplomatic actions that are designed to placate Israel in south Syria and the US in the NE. What the Russians have accomplished so far with their limited resources is quite amazing.

Posted by: ToivoS | Jun 9 2018 16:29 utc | 30

@20 jason / @30 toivo... well, the same is also true of the usa.. they are supporting israel/ksa/isis and all the other moderate headchoppers and effectively being shown what a poor hand that is to work with.. it is much like in ukraine where they continue to work with a really lousy hand, and yet - russia is supposed to somehow get rid of them from syria? a little realism would go a long way... neither has the usa/israel/ksa and company been able to get isis to overthrow assad.. russia/iran/hezbollah has effectively stopped that..

russia isn't stupid... they are doing what they can to prevent the ongoing game plan of usa/israel/ksa... to think that these same forces would somehow stop their bullshit is asking too much... and yet, if that doesn't happen russia is to blame? give it a break.. you look stupid saying shit like this..

Posted by: james | Jun 9 2018 17:21 utc | 31


"Russia in Syria is extremely exposed and simply do not have sufficient forces there to take on the US in a war in that theater."

Actually Russia does not want a war with the US as it would become what Putin called a civilizational ending event. For those who follow this forum closely, I have posted in detail the consequences of a Nuclear Winter following a 5000 MT exchange.

As for Russia vs FUKUS (and their allies) forces in the Middle East, Russia could wipe them all out quickly with their current missile forces as has been discussed at the Unz Review in great detail. Again such an action would result in the end of civilization as the US would go nuclear thinking it can actually win with minimal casualties (~100 million dead).

America and Western Europe is doing a great job in destroying itself from the inside. The trick is to let the Western empires down slowly...

As for Israel, one should not confuse Israel with Anglo-Zionism as the latter is the threat. A lot of Israeli citizens are against their government actions. For instance Edah HaChareidis-Chief Rabbinate of Jerusalem held a mass gathering of several thousand Jews to "decry Israel’s duplicitous attempts to ensnare its citizens into its military church of Zionism."

Posted by: Krollchem | Jun 9 2018 17:21 utc | 32

Krollchem@ 32 "Actually Russia does not want a war with the US" That's obvious, and is why the US view Russia's perceived inaction in Syria as a weakness to be exploited. John McCain always said push, push, push at the Russians in Syria "they will do nothing" a game of chicken if you will, and who can play that game better than the exceptional nation. The time is fast approaching when Putin will need to stand up to the US, otherwise all their efforts since 2015 will be for nought.

Posted by: Harry Law | Jun 9 2018 18:38 utc | 33

@33 harry law.. if so, the usa is really really stupid to view inaction as weakness... i don't personally think it implies anything like that myself..

Posted by: james | Jun 9 2018 21:23 utc | 34

Harry Law #33 says: The time is fast approaching when Putin will need to stand up to the US,

I agree but when the Russians decide to stand up with a direct military response to the US it will not be in Syria. I believe that they will pick a battle field that is a little bit more to their advantage. For example in the Ukraine, Estonia or maybe even Poland. Syria is not the place unless they are ready for nuclear war.

Posted by: ToivoS | Jun 10 2018 0:40 utc | 35

ToivoS @35--

Putin formally stood up to the Outlaw US Empire in 2007 at the Munich Security Conference and has pursued his independent course ever since.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 10 2018 0:59 utc | 36


Of course he did and that was a very significant statement. We were discussing something else -- where will Russia draw the line such that they are going to oppose US aggression with military force. I do think it will be in Syria.

Posted by: ToivoS | Jun 10 2018 2:10 utc | 37

ToivoS @37--

Hmmm, I must have missed that context--damn head cold! IMO, Russia has already opposed "US aggression … in Syria "with military force:" Missiles shot down or defeated via Electronic Warfare; the bombing of intelligence cells most likely populated by NATO personnel; and the detailed defeat of US allies al-Qaeda and Daesh. Those are some of the known incidents. IMO, if Clinton gained POTUS a confrontation or worse would already have occurred. The only bright spot in Trump's presidency, IMO, is that such an incident hasn't yet happened.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 10 2018 4:11 utc | 38

we heard about it that isil attack with the 10suicide bombard.but news updated that saa govt regime control back although this was a
surprised attack fir them.
kashif javaid

Posted by: kashif javaid | Jun 10 2018 14:16 utc | 39

Today's report from a Russian Ministry of Defense:

Militants of the "Free Syrian Army" (FSA) with the participation of US special forces are preparing a provocation with the use of chlorine in the Syrian province of Deir-ez-Zor to give the United States and the coalition an occasion for a new attack on Syria's state facilities.

According to information confirmed by three independent channels in Syria, the command of the so-called FSA, with the assistance of the US Special Operations Forces, is preparing a serious provocation using poisonous substances in the province of Deir-ez-Zor.

FSA militants brought cylinders with chlorine to the settlement of Hakl-Al-Jafra in Deir-ez-Zor province to simulate another "chemical attack of the regime against civilians".

Source -

Posted by: alaff | Jun 11 2018 12:23 utc | 40

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