NORTH AND EAST SYRIA — After the recent attack of the Islamic State (ISIS) on al-Sina’a prison in Hasakah, Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, John Godfrey, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Ethan A. Goldrich, held an online meeting with officials of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the political branch of the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC).
The two sides discussed efforts to combat terrorist organization ISIS and its influence in the region. Despite the territorial defeat of ISIS, the group still has capabilities to launch attacks and ambushes as an insurgency, and the al-Sina’a prison assault is an extreme case in point of this ability. In the meeting, the U.S. delegation reaffirmed commitment to the partnership with the SDF as it stands, until ISIS is completely eliminated in North and East Syria.
In related news, the U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Mills, in a speech during a UN Security Council session, stressed that the U.S. administration stands by the Syrians and will work to achieve goals that accomplish a comprehensive solution that ends the Syrian conflict permanently. Mills declared that among those goals in the continued effort to prevent the re-emergence of ISIS, is the implementation of a comprehensive cease-fire in various parts of Syria, and making way for a political solution.
The other manner in which the U.S. has attempted to force a political end to the war is through sanctions against the Syrian Ba’ath regime. The so-called ‘Caesar act’ sanctions were implemented on 17th June, 2020, and aim to isolate Daramsuq (Damascus) and press for accountability, especially with regard to chemical weapons violations and crimes against humanity carried out by the dictatorial Syrian Ba’ath regime.
Although the areas under the administration of the SDC are exempt from sanctions, the devaluation of the Syrian Pound has also impacted the areas of North and East Syria. To reduce the negative effects of this on the citizens of the Democratic Autonomous Administration, more American humanitarian aid has been provided. The sanctions exemption for the Democratic Autonomous Administration (the U.S. sanctions specifically target the Syrian regime and its accomplices) has brought the SDC further into the U.S. sphere of influence in Syria.
The Syrian Ba’ath regime, which has ruled Syria for over 50 years, has always stated that its ultimate goal with regard to the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria is to return it under state control. Recent events seem to show that the Ba’ath regime is attempting to create instability and as a result create opportunities in which it can increase its influence in the region. Most recently, the regime’s governor of Hasakah, blocked humanitarian aid destined for those affected by the al-Sina’a prison attack. Other examples include reconciliation settlements to certain groups in the Raqqa governorate, however this was firmly rejected by the target groups, who remained loyal to the SDC administration.