U.S. Special Envoy for Syria Joel Rayburn: Syrian regime and the Iranian militias cooperate with ISIS to attack Syrian Democratic Forces

WASHINGTON – After returning from his recent visit to North and East Syria, Special Envoy to Syria Joel Rayburn stated at a hearing of the Foreign Relations Committee of U.S. Congress on Wednesday, that the Syrian Baath regime in Daramsuq (Damascus) and Iranian militias are cooperating and facilitating ISIS terrorist attacks in areas under control of the Democratic Autonomous Administration and its armed forces, the Syrian Democratic Forces.

According to Rayburn, the Syrian and Iranian regimes work to spread chaos and instability in those areas and to force U.S. forces out of North and East Syria by “attempting to subcontract some of those ISIS cells.” Rayburn said his recent visit to the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria focused on how to get Iranian militias out of those areas. Iran’s goal of creating a ‘power projection platform’ to threaten Syria’s neighbors” failed, he said, as well as all Iranian and Syrian plans aimed at preventing the implementation of Washington’s strategy in Syria.

Washington is keeping constant economic and political pressure on the Syrian Baath regime to bring about change in government and implement UN Security Council Resolution 2254 which calls for a peace process towards fair and transparent elections, democracy and a new Syrian constitution. It has put the screws on the Assad regime through the Caeser’s Act and imposing sanctions on partners Iran and Hezbollah. It supports NATO-ally Turkey in Edleb (Idlib) preventing the Assad regime and Russia from making advances into the region and it has given its support to the Democratic Autonomous Administration and the Syrian Democratic Forces to prevent the Assad regime and partners Iran and Russia from retaking northeast Syria.

In return President Donald Trump allowed Turkey to invade northeast Syria and the U.S. is working to reconcile the PYD/YPG with the Turkish-backed KDP of the Barzani family. The reconciliation talks are aimed to weaken the PYD/YPG, which Turkey claims are (outlawed) PKK affiliates, by bringing in the Iraqi Kurds as counterweight. By its support for the Barzani’s, Turkey tries to expel the YPG from North and East Syria, the YBŞ (Shingal Resistance Units) from Shingal, and the PKK from the Qandil mountains in northern Iraq.

In the hearing of the Foreign Relations Committee, Rayburn was mild on Turkey saying that he has not seen signs of the Turkish government working with al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria, Turkey rather sees them as threats, he stated.

Although the ISIS Caliphate has been destroyed on the ground, its terrorist ideology is still present through smaller pockets of clandestine terrorists. In answers to questions from the Foreign Relations Committee whether the Kurds were allies in the fight against ISIS, Rayburn said that the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Peshmerga in Iraq have been very important partners and a major element in the fight, but so was Iraq and Syrian Arabs and Syriacs.