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JULY 2020

Did The US Allow ISIS To Escape To Keep The Fighting Going?


Did The US Allow ISIS To Escape To Keep The Fighting Going?

Written by Philip Giraldi; Originally appeared at The Unz Review

Americans have been living in a country that has not known peace since 9/11, when President George W. Bush and his posse of neoconservatives delivered the message to the world that “you are either with us or against us.” The threat was coupled with flurry of hastily conceived legislation that opened the door to the unconstitutional “war on terror” carried out at the whim of the Chief Executive, a conflict which was from the start conceived of as a global military engagement without end.

Bush and his handlers might not have realized it at the time but they were initiating a completely new type of warfare. To be sure, there would be fighting on the ground worldwide against an ideologically driven enemy somewhat reminiscent of communism, but there would also be included “regime change” of governments in countries that were not completely on board with the direction coming out of Washington. Instead of invading and occupying a country in the old-fashioned way, so the thinking went, far better to just knock off the top levels and let the natives sort things out while acting under direction from the pros in Washington.

Even though “regime change” in Iraq and Afghanistan did not work out very well, Bush saw himself as a triumphant war leader with his vainglorious “Mission Accomplished,” and he later dubbed himself the “decider.” He insisted that his reelection in 2004 when running against a weak John Kerry was a validation of his policies by the American people, but one has to wonder how many voters really understood that they were signing on for perpetual war that would of necessity also diminish their most cherished liberties.

Nobel Peace Prize winner and U.S. President Barack Obama followed Bush and made it clear that there would be no stepping back from a policy of proactively “protecting” the American people. Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton destroyed Libya, a disaster that is still playing out, increased involvement in Syria, and introduced death by drone for both American citizens who have transgressed and random foreigners who fit a profile. And to eliminate any pushback to what he was doing, Obama relied on invoking the state secrets privilege to block legal challenges more times than all his predecessors in office combined.

And now we have President Donald Trump, whose foreign policy is particularly unarticulated, though in many ways similar to that of his predecessors. The United States is increasing its involvement in Afghanistan, where it has been engaged for longer than in any previous war, is threatening both Iran and North Korea with annihilation, and is hopelessly entangled in Trump’s pledge to completely eliminate ISIS. Indeed, destroying ISIS (and al-Qaeda) has been the one clearly articulated part of the Trump foreign policy, though there are also occasional assertions that it should be accompanied by yet one more try at regime change in Damascus.

And the grand tradition of using military might to back up diplomacy has certainly found little favor, so much so that it is certainly clear even to the supine American public and a risk averse congress that there is something wrong in Foggy Bottom. It is astonishing to note the mainstream media, which reviled George W. Bush when he was in office, describing him currently as a voice of moderation and restraint due to his recent criticism of the White House. You can’t go wrong if you pile on Trump.

Even the U.S. media has been reluctantly reporting that ISIS has been rolled back in Syria by the joint efforts of the Syrian Army and the Russian air force with the United States and its allies playing very much secondary roles in the conflict. The Russians have, in fact, complained that Washington seemed just a tad disinterested in actually cooperating to destroy the last remnants of ISIS in the few areas that the group still controls, citing most recently an alleged incident during the Syrian government liberation of the town of Abu Kamal in which U.S. air assets on site appear to have allowed ISIS fighters to escape.

The shambles of American policy as it applies to the Middle East was highlighted by yet another similar and particularly bizarre episode that was revealed initially by the BBC on Monday of last week. In early October, when the Syrians and Russians were closing in from the west on Raqqa, the “capital” of the ISIS caliphate while the U.S supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which predominantly consists of the Kurdish militias, was closing in from the east, a deal was reportedly struck to permit an evacuation of the remaining ISIS fighters and their families.

According to the BBC investigative report, the SDF and Kurds were wary of clearing out the remaining fighters from the ruins of the city and so negotiated an agreement whereby the ISIS fighters from Syria and Iraq and their families would be able to leave and be allowed to either go home and face the consequences or proceed to ISIS controlled areas about one hundred miles away. The objective was to avoid a final assault from the air and using artillery that would have produced a bloodbath killing thousands, including large numbers of civilians. The agreement stipulated that only ISIS fighters who were local would be allowed to leave. Others, referred to as “foreigners,” from Europe, Africa or Asia would have to surrender in order to avoid their going free and getting involved in new terrorist activity after returning home.

U.S. and British military advisers who were with the SDF and Kurds reported, somewhat improbably, that they had not been party to the negotiations, that it was “all-locals,” though they later admitted that there had been some involvement on their part. In the event, trucks and busses were assembled on October 14th, formed into a convoy, and were loaded with more than 4,000 fighters and families. More than 100 ISIS-owned vehicles also were allowed to leave and there were ten trucks filled with weapons. The convoy stretched for more than four miles and film footage shows trucks pulling trailers filled with militants brandishing their weapons. The fighters were not allowed to display flags or banners but they were not forced to disarm and in fact loaded all the vehicles with as many weapons as they could carry, so much so that one truck broke its axle from the weight. The BBC reported that “This wasn’t so much an evacuation – it was the exodus of so-called Islamic State.”

The drivers reported that they were abused by the ISIS fighters, many of whom were wearing explosive belts, and they also claimed that there was a large percentage of foreigners among those escaping. Various drivers told the BBC that there were French, Turkish, Azerbaijani, Pakistani, Yemeni, Saudi, Chinese, Tunisian and Egyptian nationals among their passengers. The evacuees made it safely to ISIS controlled territory and presumably will be ready, willing and able to fight again.

The escape of the Islamic State from Raqqa is, to put it mildly, bizarre. One might accept that avoiding the carnage that would have been part and parcel of an assault on the shattered city should have weighed heavily on the decision making by the attacking forces, but allowing hardened fighters to escape with their weapons would hardly seem a good way to end the conflict. In May, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said on television that the war against ISIS was one of “…annihilation. Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to north Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We are not going to allow them to do so.”

Well, Mattis was possibly lying back then, or at least saying what he thought would play well on television and in the newspapers. On November 14th, the day after the BBC story about Raqqa broke, he lied again, saying that the United States is in Syria under a U.N. authorization to fight ISIS, which is not true. The Russians have been invited into the country by its legitimate government but the U.S. is not there legally. The Turks are claiming that there are 13 U.S. military bases already in Syria, some of which are permanent.

Mattis added to his bit of fiction by stating, somewhat ominously, that while the first phase of the ISIS war is coming to an end “Basically we can go after ISIS. And we’re there to take them out. But that doesn’t mean we just walk away and let ISIS 2.0 pop back around. The enemy hasn’t declared they’re done with the war yet. So, we’ll keep fighting them as long as they want to fight.”

A waggish friend of mine suggested that Mattis might be deliberately selectively releasing ISIS fighters so the U.S. will never have to leave Syria, but my own theory is somewhat different. I think that Washington, which has done so little to defeat ISIS, wants some threat to continue so it can keep its own “resistance forces” in place and active to give it a seat at the table and a voice at the upcoming Geneva discussions for a political settlement in Syria. Otherwise Washington will be outside looking in. The unspeakable Nikki Haley at the U.N. appears to endorse that line of thinking by asserting that Washington will continue “to fight for justice” in Syria no matter what the rest of the world decides to do.

Does this mean that we can expect considerable fumbling and a game with no exit strategy, something like a replay of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya? You betcha.



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  • Daniel Castro

    No, US didn’t allow ISIS to escape, they just retreated their mercenary army.

    • christianblood


  • Jens Holm

    So where is the list of very good microscopes ?

  • heydrich

    to fight and resist the evil zionists ,the evil zionists rothschild’s evil israHell and and the evil crypto jews house of saud in saudi arabia wahhabia ( who’s king even adressed all the UN and arab countries and requested from them to recognise and accept israHell as a country) and their allies’s control/occupation of governments and the arab land of palestine and its neighbouring arab countries, to fight and resist those zionists is to fight to remove them from governments and economic power without removing them out from these positions wars will continue and their scheme to establish a one global government control would be all set . they (by us who are fighting them and only by us ) must be removed from these positons in order to get international peace progress prosperity and a good better and more positive dialogue between all countries and their peoples who their own peoples will lead and decide (israHell saudi arabia and turkey and ethiopia and pkk-rojava-peshmerga-kurdistan could be excluded for their evil role of their tyranny and the logic of them even being recognised as countries who only occupy arab other arab nations’s lands illegally like Yemen and Somalia with daesh and AQAP and other plots of the the mossad;s so called “alliance of periphery ) what to do by and for themselves. manage what their internal and foreign affairs to other countries and people’s would be and not led by some private zionists’s monopoly organisation who wages wars on whoever they want and on behalf of whoever they control and whoever bans rothschild influence and rothschild’s-controlled banks into their country!
    History wasn’t written in ink It was written in blood.
    Reporting The Truth http://www.smoloko.com

  • gustavo

    OF COURSE, did any body expect something different ?

    • christianblood

      You are right. ISIS is indeed made in the U$A.

    • FlorianGeyer

      Anyone with a modicum of knowledge about the US War on Terrorism realises that Terrorism in all its guises gives the US Military a rationale and reason to exist.

      The United States of America is the prime beneficiary with Israel of this constant conflict.

  • Garga

    I’m going to tell you an old Persian tale I remember. If you’re not interested in folklore ignore it by all means:

    The story is about a butcher, who by accident hurt himself. He went to a physician (Hakeem). Hakeem examined his hand and found a little piece of bone under his nail, so he moved the bone piece a little with forceps and bounded the butcher’s finger and told him to return in a few days.
    Butcher returned in a few days in pain, Hakeem moved the bone again a little an told him to return in a week and this continued for a few years, the butcher paid with money and best meat for every visit and was constantly in pain for all those years.

    Hakeem’s son grew to become a physician. One day the butcher went there again but Hakeem (the father) was out, so his son examined butcher’s finger and pulled out the bone piece and sent the happy butcher away.

    After his father came back, the son proudly showed him the bone piece and told him that he could “cure” the butcher who his father was unable to cure all these years. The father slapped him on the neck and said: “You idiot! that little bone paid for your education, paid for our family all these years. What have you done?” and sent for the butcher to return.

    Butcher returned happy and thanked him, but Hakeem told him that his son made a mistake and he needs to examine the finger to make sure it doesn’t fall off. So he inserted the little bone piece in his finger, bounded and told him to return in a week. Hakeem had other sons and daughters too!

    This is like what the US does with it’s “war of terror”, with a difference that they are the ones who shoved the bone piece in the first place.

    • goingbrokes


    • You can call me Al

      Very good, I honestly enjoyed that. tx.

      You can add the “boy that cried wolf” fable as well regards diplomacy.

      “The tale concerns a shepherd boy who repeatedly tricks nearby villagers into thinking wolves are attacking his flock. When a wolf actually does appear and the boy again calls for help, the villagers believe that it is another false alarm and the sheep are eaten by the wolf. In later English-language poetic versions of the fable, the wolf also eats the boy”…….

  • Langaniso Mhlobo

    Russia has a open sky treaty with USA therefore their should fly over AL Tanaf bases.It will help tracing runing Terrorist to safe heavens of terrorist breeding bases after their strongholds are attack.Russia reconciliation centre officers should make proper check on new intakes on USA training field.Just to determine where the none stop unknown trainees are coming from with proper back round checking.

  • dutchnational

    If the reports are correct on this subject, then it only tells me that all players in this theater are to some extent using IS to the detriment of all other parties. It can be said for SAA/Hezbollah in Arslan, SDF at least partially in Raqqah, SAA in DeZ city, Turkey in Al Bab and Opposition is shielding IS in its ranks.

    All are very sanctimonious when others let IS go and are defensive when they do it themselves.

    The same goes for the commenters here.

  • Pave Way IV

    Another great piece from Giraldi – thanks for publishing it here, SF. I would only offer some additional detail about our (the US military) presence. The ‘temporary’ US bases are always part of the scheme, but the US has only partially failed in it’s imaginary duty to cut the Shia arc via SDF land-grabbing. What we can’t ‘own’ by occupying militarily, we will attempt to control by any other means.

    1. Eternal economic sanctions intended to punish all Syrian people for defying the US and cronies.
    2. Secondary to above, keep as many Syrian & Iraqi Sunnis in poverty and alienated/isolated from their respective governments as possible. Make sure they are substantially dependent on foreign aid for survival, but do nothing real – like schools, jobs, integration, mobility – that will change those conditions.
    3. Continue targeting vulnerable local populations with Saudi Wahhabi-funded mosques and madrasas, just don’t call them Wahhabi. Those institutions must instill and reinforce the idea that Iran, Shia and/or the Iraqi/Syrian governments are the real reason for their (the Sunni’s) poor condition and must be eliminated before Sunnis can be happy again. Jihad minus the weapons/explosives training.
    [ Don’t be fooled by bin Salman supposedly ‘puging’ Saudi clerics – he kicked out the ones with sympathies to the Muslim Brotherhood, not the hardcore Saudi Wahhabi Death Cult clerics. Religious schools in Saudi Arabia continue to churn out thousands of foreign Wahhabi freak clerics to spread the word in Syria/Iraq and (oddly enough) everywhere else head-choppers eventually show up.]
    4. Focus the radicalized Sunni’s attention on the Shia arc and Damascus. Sabotage any infrastructure in that area. Stage hit-and-run terrorist attacks. Syrian and Iraqi government forces, bases and border control stations targeted with VBIEDs. Sabotage any part of the Iraq Western pipelines going to Syria (bur preserve any sections going to Israel). Sabotage any other Syrian oil and gas infrastructure.
    5. Unrestricted US & coalition air presence/operations in eastern Syrian airspace using whatever contorted ‘legal’ justification the US lackeys in the UN will buy. Prevent or destroy ANY Syrian radar/air defense in eastern Syria. Feed intel to new groups of head-choppers.
    6. US must find (or create) a justification to expand their ‘fighting ISIS’ to a ‘fighting ISIS and Hezbollah‘ mission. Riskless as possible (to the US), of course: Air strikes, cruise missiles, drones, hit teams. Anything on any Hezbollah target anywhere in Syria or Lebanon. Israel has been furious that the US wasn’t helping them bomb Hezbollah, and bin Salman (and his replacement: Nayef) also want this done as soon as possible. The US war with Iran cannot be started while well-equipped, well-seasoned Hezbollah are on Israel and Saudi borders or have a presence in eastern Syria.
    7. Surround the undeclared Syria/Iraq Wahhabistan with US War of Terror protection bases. Prevent anyone from attacking head-choppers, while allowing the free flow of money, arms, explosives and foreign head-choppers in and out of region. Think of Wahhabistan as a giant, open-air concentration camp, indoctrination center and terrorist train and equip zone.

  • Douglas Houck

    No, the US will get out of Syria. The WaPo article was mostly their own Neocon hope for what The Donald and President Putin have agreed to. At this point, the US is trying to ensure that the Syrian Kurds get a significant voice at the negotiating table , even though Turkey doesn’t want them there.

    Everyone is aware of how this next phase will unfold. President Putin called all the major players and gave them the news. The HNC is being changed with the recent resignations, etc., etc.

    Even though the US Deep State won’t allow The Donald to physically see President Putin, they can’t keep him from talking to him.

  • wimroffel

    There is some UNSC resolution about fighting ISIS that the US has used as an excuse for its entry in Syria. So it will be very interesting to see what they will do when ISIS is beaten.