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To hear the US tell it, “pro-regime” forces launched an “unprovoked attack” on a “well-established” headquarters of the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF), among whom were US personnel. (One denizen of the fever swamps assures us the attack was for the purpose of killing Americans and was approved personally by Russian President Vladimir Putin!) So, naturally, in “self-defense,” American planes and artillery struck the “advancing aggressor force,” killing dozens, perhaps hundreds, of Russian “mercenaries.”
To hear Russia and pro-Russian sources tell it, Syrian government and pro-government militia were fighting off an SDF and ISIS joint attack when they were hit by American air power, killing an unknown number of Syrians and perhaps five Russian private military contractors. Reports of higher numbers are “a classic example of disinformation,” according to Moscow, and were first peddled by sources close to anti-government jihadists, then picked up by Western media.
Whatever the real story is, one thing is clear: the US is hunkering down in Syria to stay.
The question is, why?