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ISIS gains more control of Syria and region

ISIS armed with Toyota trucks
ISIS armed with Toyota trucks
Getty Images

If you have seen the latest video, ISIS the military force looks like an ad for Toyota, not just trucks but sedans too. Today they captured a Syrian government military base. They aren’t fooling around and appear to be well funded, well supplied, and well trained. Some commentators speak as if the Islamic State is already conspiring to attack the United States. That is based upon their words. Is there any other evidence, or do we need more?

There are several avenues in dealing with the Islamic State. First, the Obama administration needs to establish a foreign policy context in which to deal with the threat. At present, the administration is most tentative about attacking ISIS. One reason is that they do not want to kill a large number of civilians in the process of removing terrorists. Terrorists know this and their tactic is to hide among civilians.

If America and its allies had boots on the ground they could be more precise in attacking ISIS and directing fire upon them to avoid or to minimize civilian casualties. Robot war with drones has its risks and limitations in this regard.

If drones are used in Syria, for instance, they are vulnerable to attack by Syrian government defense systems. That makes them less effective than in Iraq where they have a high degree of freedom.

Is anyone in the U.S. State Department considering talking with Bashar al Assad about a diplomatic solution to establishing a new democratically elected government in Syria? Surely, Assad and his wife might appreciate asylum somewhere nice at this point.

Would it be prudent to engage Russia in the Syrian equation whereby some relief could be offered for Russian transgressions in exchange for assistance in producing more stability in Syria?

There are many diplomatic buttons to push, but does the Obama administration have sufficient capacity in the State Department to think about all of the options?

“ISIS Tightens Its Grip With Seizure of Air Base in Syria


A militant on Sunday announcing to residents of Tabqa that the Tabqa air base had fallen to fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, in nearby Raqqa. CreditReuters
BAGHDAD — Extremist fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria seized a military base in northern Syria on Sunday from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, further solidifying control inside their self-declared Islamic state spanning the Syria-Iraq border.
The fall of the Tabqa air base followed the group’s seizing of two other Syrian military bases and gave it effective control of Raqqa Province, which abuts the Turkish border and whose capital city, Raqqa, has long served as the group’s de facto headquarters.

Recent military advances by ISIS in northern and eastern Syria have highlighted the lack of local military forces that can effectively battle the group, which President Obama last week called a “cancer” that must be eradicated from the Middle East.

Syrian rebel groups that formed to fight Mr. Assad’s government never managed to take the air base, and while Mr. Assad’s forces have been bombing ISIS from the air and killing its fighters, they lack the ground troops necessary to challenge the group’s hold on terrain.”

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