Socialist Worker

British soldier’s death in Syria shows how West lies over its interventions

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2598

Sergeant Matt Tonroe was killed in Syria last week

Sergeant Matt Tonroe was killed in Syria last week


A British SAS soldier was killed in Syria last week—despite a vote in parliament against British army intervention there.

Sergeant Matt Tonroe was blown up by a makeshift roadside bomb near the northern city of Manbij along with US Delta Force soldier Jonathan Dunbar.

The US has claimed they were both on a mission “to kill or capture a known Isis member”.

A 2013 vote in parliament agreed not to send British military forces to Syria—humiliating then Tory prime minister David Cameron. A vote in 2016 agreed only to airstrikes.

Yet despite this the SAS has been fighting in Syria since as early as 2012.

They form a shady part of Western attempts to control Syria amid the turmoil caused by the Assad regime’s counter-revolution.

British and US special forces have most recently been helping the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) take control of northern Syria.

This has mostly involved fighting Isis, which grew in Syria after the Assad regime abandoned the north to focus on crushing the revolution around Damascus and in the south.

But the US has abandoned its SDF allies after they were attacked by Nato member Turkey.

The SDF is mainly made up of militant groups from the Kurdish minority in northern Syria. Groups such as the YPG hoped to carve out a Kurdish statelet in northern Syria and looked to Western forces for arms and funding.

Worried

Yet their growth worried the government of neighbouring Turkey. The Turkish state is fighting a brutal war against its own oppressed Kurdish minority.

It feared northern Syria could become a base for Kurdish fighters in Turkey.

Turkey invaded north west Syria in January—and seized the city of Afrin from the SDF last month.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his invasion could extend much further into northern Syria, all along the border with Turkey and possibly in Iraq. He has recently talked of building a “Greater Turkey” beyond its current borders.

This has put Turkey and the US at odds.

But rather than confront Turkey, the US has left the SDF to be crushed by the Turkish invasion.

Now US president Donald Trump has frozen over £140 million of funding for SDF controlled areas. US officials have said Trump’s government wants to “reassesses Washington’s broader role in the protracted conflict” in Syria.

This came after a shock announcement by Trump last Thursday that the US would leave Syria “very soon”.

It’s another manoeuvre in the scramble by regional and global powers to carve up Syria in the wake of its civil war.

The ordinary people of the Middle East—and those who hoped for support from imperialism—are its victims.


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