Syria Airstrike in Iraq Complicates ISIL Equation

Syria Fighter JetFollowing early reports that U.S. drones had struck targets in northern Iraq on Tuesday, it turns out that Syrian aircraft had executed the attacks on the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant. Pentagon officials would old say the U.S. has “no reason to dispute these reports.”

The brazen attack inside Iraq is a signal how  Syria and northern Iraq have devolved into one battlefield, a defense analyst said.

“The border between Syria and Iraq has effectively been erased,” said Colin Kahl, a senior fellow and director of Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. “There is one battle space, so I would expect that you would see Syrian forces who are battling [ISIL] hit on both sides of the border.”

This is especially complicated should those battles take place in the air. The U.S. is already flying surveillance flights over northern Iraq to monitor movements of ISIL. The U.S. military is also scouting potential targets for airstrikes should President Obama order them.

President Obama said airstrikes are on the table, but yesterday Secretary of State John Kerry said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki must pursue a unified government and lessen the Shia influence before U.S. airstrikes would be ordered.

But now Syria has beaten the U.S. to the punch raising the question whether a U.S. airstrike in northern Iraq means the U.S. is supporting Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria.

And don’t forget Iran. The predominantly Shiite country of Iran has interests in stamping out the potential threat of ISIL. There are reports that Iranian special forces have again flooded over the Iraqi border to bolster Moqtada al-Sadr’s militia to ensure ISIL does not take down Baghdad.

So if the U.S. launches airstrikes, there’s a possibility a U.S. fighter could fly by an Iranian F-14 and a Syrian MiG-25 on the way to northern Iraq.

Syria’s strike changed the equation and made a complicated situation even tougher for the U.S. to navigate.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • Dickie Cockpit

    I’m looking for the establishment of a greater Kurdistan.

  • jamesb

    Obama is patiently waiting ……
    No diplomatic deal on the religious issue?
    No US stuff….
    Sounds Good to me…..

  • Lance

    Why not we allied with Japan in WW1 and with Soviet Russia in WW2 why not Syria now to crush AL Qaeda. Think take out the real enemy first Syria was never a attacker on the US despite Obama Sunni support.

    Bet MiG-29s where used in attack strikes or SU-17s. MiG-25s are short range interceptor not a attack plane.

    • ronaldo

      Was I asleep when someone brought up the relevancy of a Mig 25 in this thread ?

      You people are just whacko sometimes.

      • rtsy

        “So if the U.S. launches airstrikes, there’s a possibility a U.S. fighter could fly by an Iranian F-14 and a Syrian MiG-25 on the way to northern Iraq.”

        Maybe start reading the entire article before you comment.

  • BlackOwl18E

    This is another situation where Arab-Islamic forces are fighting each other and we should just sit back and watch. The more they spend fighting each other the less they spend focusing on us.

    We need to sit back, let them fight it out, and deal with the winners. Best case scenario: the winners are reasonable people. Worst case scenario in most instances: the winners hate our guts and want to fight, but they’ll at least have been weakened from killing off the losers, leaving less work for us.

  • tlc

    Syria use of chimerical weapons propaganda did not get much milage.
    Plan B. The Ol’ Zion cross boarder Syrian Jet attack……where’s the beef? Oops! Where is the evidence? AWACS systems grounded?

  • Jerry

    The comments here suggest that more understanding of Syria is in order. No chemical weapons use by the Syrian govt. has ever been shown to be a fact. Those closest to the sites found it likely that sarin gas had been used by the Syrian rebels. The charges came at a time when the Syrian govt. forces were mopping up much of the country; the last thing they needed was gas–and the obvious invitation from the charges to get the US involved in aiding the rebels. That is, the govt. had nothing to gain and everything to lose by using gas, while the rebels had everything to gain from trying to pin it on the Assad people. This civil war, which is now mostly over–won by the govt. which is largely popular in the country–would probably never have started without the opposition’s expectations that the US would get involved as it had just before in Libya. Assad is not the demon he is projected by the media as being. He just got re-elected overwhelmingly (and incl. support from refugees in neighboring countries). Syria passed a new constitution shortly before the war began–a constitution that assures all sorts of freedoms lacking in the Arab countries supported by the US (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Qatar). The Assad govt. is secular and has protected Christian and other minorities. A radical Islamimic govt. is what would most likely take over were his govt. to fall. The US should withdraw its covert support for the rebels and support Assad.

    • Peter

      That is one of the truer posts I’ve seen about the Syrian situation. To my mind a group of discontented people jumped on the Arab Spring bandwagon expecting Western support. OK, I’ll admit, they may well have grievances but there is no way that the “rebels” were a majority. At least until outside Jihadists started joining in. Part of the problem is that we always seem to want to side with the underdog, even when they’re in the wrong.

    • Dave

      Assad is not the demon he is projected by the media as being? OMG, are you 12? You are so far off base here. You couldn’t prove anything you just said. Not a single word. Assad is dropping barrel bombs indiscriminately all over Syria. What a guy! And then Peter chimes in and shows his ignorance as well. No wonder America is as weak as it has ever been.

  • Juramentado

    The US will mostly limit airstrikes to Southern Iraq and immediate areas around Baghdad. Without extensive Tanker Support, long range strikes in the hotspots North and West would put most tactical aircraft (in this case US Navy strike fighters are the primary asset currently in the area) at the very edge of their operational radius. Putting tankers over hostile territory is not recommended. So by virtue of those circumstances, the US has built themselves a kill box limitation, so it’s highly unlikely a SuperBug would pass an Iranian or Syrian jet on the way to a strike.

    • Jewbacca

      Don’t worry we have bombers in the region.

  • hibeam

    I guaran-damn-tee you that Syrian airstrikes in New York City would be frowned upon by this administration. Severely frowned upon.

  • blight_

    They’ve learned from our mistake in Vietnam. Take the fight to the border-crossing enemy. Leave none alive.

  • James Moore

    Wasn’t it proven it was the rebels who used the chemical weapons in an effort to get the U.S involved?

    • rtsy

      No, it wasn’t. In truth there has been no proof either way of who used Sarin gas in Syria, but common sense says that it was the Assad regime. If it were the rebels than the Assad regime had little to no control over it’s stockpiles, which is highly unlikely. Furthermore, if the rebels had access to Sarin gas and were willing to use it they probably would have targeted the regime itself, not civilian populations.

  • Hank

    Obama and his stooges support ISIS. They provided training and support for these rodents. Now that ISIS/ISIL are attacking Iraq he doesn’t know what to do. LOL!

  • Rob

    if the hardline extremists are now concentrated in this area, it may be worth it if Syria Jordan Turkey USA Saudi Arabia Iran and Iraq just unite, end this madness

  • Auyong Ah Meng

    I am wondering something here….as i understand it…the ISIS is an organization fighting and dying for Allah/God/Universal super being…i also understand ISIS stated the infidels tools i.e. weopons/medical supplies, thoughts/religion and etc are un-clean to their Allah/god/super-being…

    Question here is…why are they using un-clean weopons / medical supplies / treated water / radio equipment / etc that was use or produced by the un-clean….by using, does that not make ISIS leaderships/warriors of super being un-clean themselves….ISIS should use their own manufactured weops and supplies….if they have to make their own steel schimitars/sabre or wholly own manufactured needle + cow string to sew up wounds etc …their super being will find them to be true warriors/followers of his truth….

    Isn’t that so….all you clean brave warriors of your Allah.


  • TonyC.

    Complete chaos and breakdown in security. At least Sadam kept a lid on it.

  • Guest

    Too many cooks in the kitchen, that’s a pretty dry tinderbox already, It’ll take a really small spark for this to get even more out of hand.

  • Aatif Rahman

    ISIL end up conquering Syria and set up tone for WW3.

  • Aatif

    Things will continue like this until there is a clear winner, Europe herself is weak now only one who is expected to put up good fight is USA, but doubts are will they set foot on grounds on trust air strikes only. Secondly, USA army have not came across ground battle with good fighters in recent history, leave out Afghansitan they have a lot of home work done and experience from USSR’s defeat in Afghanistan this is completely different field, and different race. Finally, what if Afghans joins hand in hand with ISIL and engage a good amount of USA army in Afghanistan. Winter is just around the corner and Afghans have been more active during this time, it seems we may have a clear winner this time but I see blood a lot of blood.

  • Auyong is wrong

    rosy, it did in the 1980s, when America helped Saddam in his war against Iran. Anyway, who used chemical weapons in Syria, has not been proven.

  • Rob

    Militants are now using some of our hardware & vehicles. We should be doing more