Syria’s army goes on the offensive as U.S. bombs Assad’s foes

Reuters reports: As U.S. warplanes bomb his enemies in Syria’s east, President Bashar al-Assad has set loose his own forces in the west, alarming Washington’s few friends on the ground and potentially undermining the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State.

U.S. President Barack Obama says Washington’s goal in Syria is to defeat Islamic State without helping Assad’s government. The Arab allies that have joined the U.S.-led strikes are some of Assad’s fiercest opponents.

Nevertheless, after first tamping down the use of its own air power in the initial days of the strikes, Syria’s military has intensified its own bombing against some of the rebel groups in the west of the country that Washington considers its allies.

Last Thursday alone, Syrian warplanes dropped bombs, including steel drums packed full of explosives and shrapnel, in Hama, Idlib, Homs and Aleppo provinces and around Damascus, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring body.

“In the first two days the Syrian air strikes went down about 90 percent, but then there were more, more than before. Now they are targeting Idlib every day,” said Rami Abdelrahman, who runs the Britain-based Observatory. [Continue reading…]

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