Kudos to the military for this operation:
U.S. Special Operations troops carried out a ground operation in eastern Syria aimed at capturing an Islamic State militant, U.S. officials said Monday.
The raid took place Sunday near a small town along the Euphrates River valley, in the vicinity of the city of Deir al-Zour and deep in the heart of Islamic State territory, according to the officials and Syrian activist groups.
The troops, who landed on helicopters, spent about 90 minutes in the area, then left carrying Islamic State captives and bodies, according to witnesses quoted by the website Deir al-Zour 24, which monitors Islamic State activity in that province.
But I don't know why we are fighting ISIL in Syria for Assad's benefit.
Russia has no shame in focusing on non-ISIL enemies of Assad in their effort to defend Assad.
What Russia cares about is that they will get to keep their bases in Syria:
Russia plans to improve and expand its naval and air bases in Syria, Interfax news agency reported on Sunday, citing an unnamed source, as Moscow cements its presence in the Middle Eastern country, its only overseas military deployment.
But the Russians really don't care much about helping Assad deal with ISIL in the east:
Islamic State has launched its fiercest assault in a year against a besieged Syrian government enclave in the city of Deir al-Zor, trying to cut it off from a nearby military air base in a battle that has killed dozens.
Nope. Russia is happy to carry out an exit strategy now, if they can, while their image is good after the fall of Aleppo to Assad's forces.
Much as we took advantage of the murderous and odious Soviet Union waging war on just as odious and murderous Nazi Germany in World War II, I don't know why we would try to keep ISIL from fighting Assad.
From the beginning, I've been in favor of defeating ISIL in Iraq first.
While doing that I thought we could build up the non-jihadi resistance in Syria, attacking ISIL there only to support the operations against ISIL in Iraq or to shape the future battlefield in Syria.
Strikes to protect our Syrian rebel allies from ISIL would be an example of that latter kind of effort.
Then, after the non-jihadi resistance to Assad was built up and after ISIL in Iraq was defeated (and turned into a terrorist problem rather than a caliphate occupying territory), we could focus on defeating ISIL in Syria, confident that the defeat of ISIL would not be a favor to Assad.
I called this Win, Build, Win.
So far we are relying on Syrian Kurds to fight ISIL in the operation to take Raqqa. But the Kurds are not going to fight Assad for us. The Kurds will fight ISIL as long as those jihadis are a threat to Kurdish regions in Syria. The Kurds will not march on Damascus.
The Kurds will happily make a deal with Assad for autonomy as the price of sitting out the rest of the war after the Kurds have what they want secured. No Kurdish leaders are going to send their forces all the way to Damascus while Turks loom over their Kurdish proto-state in northern Syria.
So completely defeating ISIL will simply take an enemy off the board in the fight to unseat Assad--who our president seemingly a million years ago insisted had to step down--without building up an acceptable rebel force that can take its place.
Defeating Iran by defeating Assad should be a higher priority than defeating ISIL in Syria.
Simply defeating Assad who has plenty of American blood on his hands from Lebanon to Iraq from his support for jihadis who killed our troops alone should have a higher priority than beating ISIL in Syria.
Remember, when ISIL is gone, who will want to keep fighting to get rid of the butcher Assad who will reassure everyone that he'll be very busy rounding up people in Syria and so no threat to them?
Contrast that to all the nations that will work together to fight ISIL after the Assad regime is defeated to stop terror attacks at home. Even France is on board that fight.
Is this order of operations really so hard to appreciate?