US Commander Threatens Russia, Syria Over NE Flights

US Commander Threatens Russia, Syria Over NE Flights | Syrian warplanes continue overflights around Hasakeh

In a telephone interview from Baghdad, new Iraq-Syria War Commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend tried to echo the boundless optimism of every other US commander when put in charge of one of the nation’s various open-ended wars, vowing to see all of ISIS dead, and virtually ousted from both countries within a year.

The real story of his comments, however, was less the war he’s fighting now than the wars he’s threatening to fight along the way, as Lt. Gen. Townsend pointedly threatened both Russia and Syria over recent flights and airstrikes around the northeastern city of Hasakeh.

Townsend said he’d “informed” the Russians that US warplanes are prepared to defend US troops on the ground if they feel threatened in future strikes in and around Hasakeh. US troops are known to be embedded with Kurdish forces in the Hasakeh Province, but their exact locations aren’t known.

Even so, when fighting broke out in the city between Syrian and Kurdish forces, and Syrian warplanes struck the Kurds, US officials complained they’d had to scramble troops out of the area. They also made a point of sending their own warplanes to “confront” the Syrian ones.

Syrian warplanes are still flying over the area, despite US threats, while Russia is trying to get the military and the Kurds to stop fighting one another. Russia has been hacking the Kurds in some offensives, and appears to see this fighting as an unwelcome distraction from their focus on ISIS and the Nusra Front.

US officials, on the other hand, seem to see this as a great opportunity to transition from the war against ISIS, which despite all their rhetoric isn’t accomplishing much, and into a war against Syria’s government, which they see as a more straightforward, and potentially more winnable, battle.

US intelligence officials have been arguing that point since last year, and State Department officials have also been pushing the idea of shifting the war to one of regime change, on the idea that the pro-US rebels are never going to get anywhere unless the US props them up as a government first.

That said, attacking Syrian warplanes over Syria is almost certain to quickly bring the Russians into the war as well, which is why it has in practice been unthinkable to do so. Despite that obvious problem looming just over the horizon, however, US officials are still eagerly rushing forward on a confrontation.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of

  • MvGuy

    Hooked on war, more war and wider war…. & whats up with Turkey regarding this new situation of forgetting ISIS and going after Assad… A big political mess at best, WWIII at worst… Who is steering this Obama Ship of Fools… Can it possinbly be Lt. Gen. Townsend…?????

    • armdkny

      Anyone with basic knowledge of the region would have predicted the outcome of the Iraq Invasion by US forces. This is the outcome.

    • John Macassey

      Actually, Turkey is going after the Kurds. Could be Turkey will back up Assad – briefly- to allow a transitional Syrian government to be formed that will not allow Kurds to take over northern Syria as a separate state..

  • armdkny

    Has the Syrian government invited US forces to Syria?? Must have slipped my mind.

  • John Macassey

    Perhaps Mr Townsend would be well advised to give the co-ordinates of the so called US advisers to the Russian authorities in case they come under air attack.

  • Doom Sternz

    Takfiri crazies, managed by western special forces, paid for by Wahabi (Saudi) money and engaged against all those who refuse to bow to the Empire. Political reasons have forced the US to engage in a pretend war against Daesh just because it does not look very good when the 911 false flag is blamed on al-Qaeda while at the same time the USA are using all their power to prop-up, organize, protect and manage the very same al-Qaeda.

    Furthermore, there are some pretty clear signs that there is more than one US foreign policy now: there is a White House foreign policy, there is a Republicans in Congress foreign policy, there is a Pentagon foreign policy and, of course, there is a CIA foreign policy. And these various actors rarely pursue the same goals. This kind of “executive chaos” is a surefire sign that the top of the Executive Branch has been tremendously weakened and that various actors are now taking major political decisions in their own hands.

    This of course will lead to civil war in America.

  • intlet9949

    Townsend….Hold up there tough guy!!…..You’re not talking about going up against Saddam’s rag tag air force or drug peddling third world terrorist. You might want to act like you know what diplomacy means when you are talking down to a military with Migs, a standing army and an actual navy.

  • rybo1

    Another pompous, American dipshit.

    • TEAM USS

      Syria better tread carefully if it decides to attack positions held by American troops it will be met with our radar evading F-22 raptor and if Russia decided it wants to get in the mix it’s positions will be met with overwhelming strikes in its propped up Syrian regime positions.I mean the only reason there in Syria is because it’s the only place it has a base in the middle East so it’s trying to keep it’s only source of influence in the region in fact Iran just announced Russia will not be allowed to use it’s airbase for strikes because the Russians were supposed to keep it quiet but like I already said Russia is only there to show off it capabilities in there weaponry to try to intimidate the western nations but it’s not working in fact it’s backfiring now you have NATO on its doorsteps the USA modernizing there strike capabilities Nukes in Turkey on Russia’s border and as far as Syria is concerned the US could just withdraw and arm the rebels with heat seaming shoulder fired missiles like they did with the Mujahdern in Afghanistan which crushed the Russians there.Theres plenty of ways to tame a bear get it through your heads Russian trolls you can buzz a warship fly close to our surveillance planes here and there to get a lil publicity but how will we respond NATO on your doorstep keep it up let’s see what happens next.USA

      • The logic is nearly as compelling as the spelling/punctuation/grammar is solid!

        • TEAM USA

          For some reason this original article with this discussion has been replaced with a story that’s similar but it’s from CNN now I just commented on this page today and it was a completely different article…hmmm…either someone didn’t like what was said in this discussion or there’s some funny buisness going on with this site…what happened to this original article and why was it altered from its original content…USA

      • Mark Thomason

        S-400 vs F-22. Even if the F-22 does not get blown out, the US air war would be ended unless and until a complete all out war in Syria.

        • TEAM USA

          You people make me laugh I guess you think Russia is the only country with military hardware the USA has numerous bases in numerous positions throughout the middle East it also has strategic guided missels it can fire from its naval destroyers not to mention it can easily put back in place it’s own patriot missles back in place in its base in Syria’s border with Turkey.I mean really who’s scared here a desperate to keep there only base in the middle East country named Russia whose regime it’s backing in Syria was being crushed by it’s adversaries or the USA that’s got a battalion on Russia’s doorstep…yall can dream all y’all want but the fact is Russia is surrounded just like it’s weak regime in Syria is…USA….we got this

      • wehaveseenthisb4

        A real cheer leader here. Enlisted? Thinking about it? Already thought about it? Or a, “Thanks for your service,” guy?

      • Schulz

        A German SS officer circa 1938 couldn’t have said it better.

      • Charlie Wilson

        Fascinating how arming and creating Al-Qaida and the rest of the terrorists in Afghanistan is now spun as a ‘good’ thing.

        I’m old enough to remember when after Reagan’s War the big ‘TERROR’ threat was that, OMG, these terrorists now have shoulder-fired SAM missiles and can now sit outside of any airport’s runways and just blast planes out of the sky.

        The problem is, 30 years later there are still nut-cases around who think that giving terrorists man-portable SAM’s is a good idea.

      • Tecumseh1768

        I hope our war with Russia goes better than your grammatical structure.

        • Well, it would be hard for it to go worse.

          A non-nuclear war with the Russians in Syria?

          Worse for the US than the “Iraq will be a cakewalk” idiots expect, of course.

          But absent dramatic escalation (nuclear or opening fronts outside Syria), if the US decides to replace Assad and eject the Russians from Syria, my guess is it’s done in six weeks tops.

  • Tom Aman

    He’s trying to get his 4th star

    • JP McEvoy

      At the expense of a few more Gold Star families.

  • RD1485

    step n’ fetch it, American jarheads. “Nathaniel Rothschild is a co-founder and non-executive director of Genel Energy plc, the largest oil producer in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq”

  • August 10th, 2016 The Stench of Raw Propaganda

    Agents for the elite willing to tell the most blatant and transparant lies, they know the media will not challenge them on their statements. Washington’s plan to invade Syria was blocked by the UK Parliament and Russian diplomacy.

  • Mark Thomason

    “the pro-US rebels are never going to get anywhere unless the US props them up as a government first”

    They would not get anywhere that way either. It would be another Afghanistan or Somalia, in which our puppet does not even control the building in which we install and guard them.

    Turning Syria into an ungoverned, ungovernable space would suit Israel, but it would very much not suit the EU or Turks or Iraqis. It would likely leave Jordan as the next disaster area. That too might suit Israel, as a place to push the Palestinians, but again it would very much not suit anyone else.

  • ThorsteinVeblen2012

    Angling for a spot on the Board of Directors of one of arms merchants.

    He must me close to retiring. It’s time for the kids to take over.

  • MahmudH

    The Kurds must be panicking if they’re picking a fight with the Syrian government like this. They’re probably thinking that if Turkey switches sides and helps the Syrian government, the rebels will be defeated and they’ll be isolated and at the mercy of the Syrian government. So they want to consolidate their territory before this happens, and drive out pockets of government soldiers, so that it is more defendable against a possible future government assault.

  • Bianca

    The poor guy just cannot get a break As soon as he feels on firm footing — threatening Syria and Russia to not invade “their” turf, Turkey is opening up the corridor into the same space — kicking both YPG and ISIS. Let us see — now will have to warn Turkey off? The budding relationship between some YPG commanders and US special ops — being (oops!) caught in a real dilemma. It is no secret that Turkey is serious about not allowing the facts on the ground establish a territorial claim by Kurds, especially OUTSIDE of their areas. Taking Manjib, and ethnically cleansing non-Kurds with US help — is a pattern by now obvious. But Kurds are not a monolithic political body, as YPG also has its office in Moscow. The handwriting is on the wall — all parties in conflict, except US — now support Syrian territorial integrity. Politically, Kurds have not been part of the negotiations. Russia did support their participation but Turkey and US did not. Now, Turkey has the key to Kurds participation — that is, if they support Syrian territorial integrity, they get the seat at the table. Russia might persuade them to think carefully about this one. Kurds are really being asked to decide, whose side they are on. US is giving them territory in battle, but they may not get any of this in the peace process.
    It is clear that US wants to stay put in the area on Iraqi/Turkish border, and create a cordon sanitaire between the two. It is a tall order, as the only ground force they have now are Kurds. Who will have to think about their own future given the constellation of actors now involved on the ground in Syria.

  • Aug 20, 2016 Russia’s Middle East Breakthrough… No Wonder Washington’s Grouchy

    Russia’s air raids in Syria, launched from Iranian territory this week, were received by Washington with a mixture of consternation and disappointment. Understandably, too. It marks a breakthrough in Russia’s standing in the Middle East.

  • Hunter

    The scary part is that in the United States of Anti-Democracy, its a very open question as to who’s really calling the shots. The local military commanders have a lot of power and even conduct diplomacy in a region. Its an open question as to whether or not they are ‘under the control’ of the civilians picked by the corporations in the last Presidential Selection.

    So, its not entirely impossible that this nut could actually start world war III and we all get our 20 minutes of notice that we are about to die a horrible and painful death.

  • This is America’s latest plot to destroy Syria and it involves turning the Kurds against their former allies in the Syrian Army. Once again, Putin may be our only hope. He has to convince both Syria and Rojava that they are being duped by the Americans. We have to get those special forces soldiers out of Rojava. They are agent provocateurs. They must be stopped before they start World War 3.