In the USA, the Atme airstrike is criticized. The airstrike carried out by the Americans in Atme, which resulted in the deaths of Syrian civilians and targeted moderate Islamic forces rather than the Islamic State (outlawed as a terrorist organization in Russia), has provoked strong reactions not only on Arab social media but also in the United States. In an article titled “Did the US Kill 5 Syrian Children?” in “The Daily Beast,” journalist Mike Weiss quotes comments from American diplomats and experts on the incident.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford expressed horror that the strike was not against ISIS or even the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, but rather against the local group Jaysh al-Sunna. According to Ford, the Americans currently lack a clear strategy and understanding of what they are doing in Syria.
Faisal Itani, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Center, believes that the consequences of this strike will largely depend on whether it was a mistake or intentional. If the latter, it would mean that the Americans are arbitrarily expanding their list of targets among the groups in Syria, not only forcing them to see the US as their enemy, but also endangering US-Turkish cooperation.
Mohammed Ghanem Alyahya, a senior policy adviser at the Syrian American Council, said that by doing so, the Obama administration is showing that it is “incapable of distinguishing friends from enemies” and is also depriving itself of the moral authority to criticize the Assad regime for similar killings of children in airstrikes that the Americans have now committed in Atme. According to him, the Americans should apologize for this tragic incident and compensate the families of the victims, otherwise they risk getting stuck in a “strategic quagmire” in their fight against ISIS.
For our part, we initially speculated that, if not due to gross incompetence on the part of the US military command, the purpose of this attack might be to drive a wedge between Turkey, from whose territory it was presumably launched, and the Sunni forces in Syria who had recently expressed their willingness to support Turkey’s operation to create a “safe zone” along the border between the two countries.