Between Russia, Iran, Turkey, and the US-led coalition, it seems like every country is intervening militarily in Syria. On Friday Iraq joined the ever-complicated situation, carrying out airstrikes against a pair of Syrian border towns, with support and a very public blessing from the Pentagon.
“It is a good strike, it is a valid strike,” insisted Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis. The attacks targeted the border towns of al-Bukamal and Husseibah, nominally in “retaliation” for a recent ISIS attack in the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad.
Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Abadi insisted that the attack proved Iraq would chase terrorism “wherever it is found.” With ISIS having lost most of its Iraqi territory, it seems they are running out of potential internal targets for retaliation after bombings.
At the same time, if this marks the beginning of regular Iraqi bombings of Syria, it further complicates the situation in the air over ISIS territory, and adds an Iraqi Air Force with limited capacity and a history of dubious targeting in cities where civilians are present.
Though the US has a long history of welcoming everyone to its assorted coalitions, the inclusion of Iraqi warplanes in Syria as a de facto American proxy only adds to the perception of a regional war, and seemingly does little beyond providing the Iraqi government with targets to hit to make a show of ‘doing something’ about over a decade of instability in Baghdad.