Why the U.S. Attack Inside Syria Is Significant

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Why the U.S. Attack Inside Syria Is Significant

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On October 26 the United States attacked a strategic target in the Sukkiraya Farms area of Syria near the town of Abu Kamal, which is only about five miles from the border of Iraq.

The attack ignited a diplomatic furor on several fronts. Iran, an ally of Syria, vigorously protested the American raid.

U.S. intelligence indicates that 90 percent of the foreign fighters enter Iraq through Syria; many of them through this difficult to defend region. Frustrated with a lack of cooperation from Syria to shut down this terrorist pipeline, U.S. forces took matters into their own hands.

A U.S. counterterrorism official said the target person headed a network funneling fighters, weapons and cash into Iraq. Syria protested that the Americans attacked the civilian occupants of a building, killing a man, his four children and another husband and wife. An eye witness to the funeral the next day said that there were seven adult males and no children.

Syria's relationship with Washington had been improving, but this incident is certain to strain that progress. Also, the young Iraqi government seeks good relationships with its neighbors Syria and Iran—even as it is in the midst of a sensitive political debate over how long U.S. forces will remain in Iraq.

With the world's financial markets in meltdown, you might wonder, why should we care about what happens in Syria? It's a poor country with a small military and is not a crucial factor in the world market or a significant oil producer.

But one significant nation—Russia—voiced angry protests over the U.S. attack. And it has probably not escaped your notice that Russia has all but publically declared a return to the Cold War.

Stratfor, an online publisher of geopolitical intelligence, warns that there are signs that Russia is again beginning to launch proxy wars—striking at American interests through any willing antagonist. Russia is also warming to an alliance with anti-American Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. And Russian money is supporting pro-Marxist terrorist groups in Mexico.

Now, as it did decades ago, Russia is renewing its military ties with Syria. Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, traveled to Moscow in August to discuss how to expand weapon purchases and the sharing of military technology.

For its part, Moscow hopes to establish a naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea that would make it possible for a Russian warship fleet to be stationed in the Mediterranean region! The Russians are likely to seize upon the recent American raid as an excuse to further the course they've already embarked upon with Damascus.

Centuries ago Syria's location was also strategic. It was on the main land route between Asia, Europe and Egypt. Since then, improved sea and air travel diminished its strategic significance. But its location cannot be ignored today because it borders Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. Syria also gives safe harbor to numerous terrorist groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah. And Iran's supply route to Hezbollah in Lebanon is through Syria.

A few years ago a massive al Qaeda terrorist attack on Jordan was planned and launched from Syria. Fortunately it was discovered and thwarted. But it could well have killed 60,000 people with chemical weapons, possibly from some of Saddam Hussein's weapon stockpiles covertly diverted to Syria.

Turkey, just north of Syria, is presently seeking membership in the EU. Turkey also would like to extend its influence in the Middle East after the United States withdraws from Iraq. A stable Syria would be greatly in Turkey's interest.

Syria's significance in the end time is mentioned in the biblical prophecies of Amos. His warning to Damascus (Amos 1:3-5) is one of his eight prophecies to tribes or countries in the region of Syria and Palestine. Of their meaning, The Anchor Bible Commentary perceptively concludes, "There was a single decree…declaring judgment on the entire region as a unit…. This unity suggests one cosmic holocaust…" (note on Amos 1). A modern fulfillment of Amos' prophecy would be significant.

Syria's Sukkiraya Farms region is rich with history, as it is close to the Kahbour River, also known as the Kebar or Chebar—next to the area where captives from Israel were resettled in the 8th century B.C. by Assyria. The most famous captive among them was the prophet Ezekiel who, from the Chebar's banks, wrote prophecies relating to the future of America, Europe and the Middle East today.