Here's why F15 fighter jets blew up a key Special Forces base in Syria

Jack Murphy
October 17, 2019 - 10:19 am
F15 fighter jets

DVIDs, Photo by Airman 1st Class Adam Smith

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U.S. fighter jets have bombed and destroyed a former French cement factory in Syria that American Special Forces had been using as an operational and ammunition hub for the past several years.  

Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III released a statement today announcing the defensive move. “Two Coalition F-15Es successfully conducted a pre-planned precision airstrike at the Lafarge Cement Factory to destroy an ammunition cache and reduce the facility’s military usefulness.” This was done as a part of America's hasty, but according the Pentagon, deliberate withdrawal.

The Lafarge cement factory is located in Northern Syria between Kobani and Ain Issa at a critical road junction. Lafarge is a French cement company that owned the factory prior to the war. As ISIS was sweeping across Syria, Lafarge has been accused in court documents of funneling five million dollars to ISIS, Nusra, and other armed factions in a bid to keep their plant open. That didn't prevent employees from being threatened and kidnapped, and by the end of 2014, ISIS took control of the plant and shut it down.

A few years later, the United States military was engaged in countering ISIS with an international coalition force. U.S. Special Forces soldiers found a viable partner force in the Kurdish YPG and YPJ militias, which were then forged into the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in order to bring Arab militias into the fold. This was necessary in order to move into and capture other ISIS-held areas, heading west across the Euphrates River and south towards the de facto capital of the Islamic State, Raqqa.  These were Arab areas, and a Kurdish force would not, in of itself, be seen as legitimate by locals in the newly liberated villages and cities.

The Lafarge cement plant was occupied by U.S. Special Forces soldiers and became a central hub in a constellation of Special Forces team houses spread out across northern Syria. There are several other key U.S. installations in Syria which are likely being evacuated at this time, if they haven't been already. The Forward Operating Base (FOB) at Lafarge supported key operations in Syria such as a joint Kurdish-JSOC river crossing operation when the SDF pushed across the Euphrates river and the seige of Raqqa.

The FOB's operational security was compromised by the FitBit controversy in 2018. Fitbit is a fitness tracking application that is worn while exercising. The user's movements were tracked by GPS and overlaid on a publicly available map. Covert and clandestine installations around the world were revealed as researchers began to connect the dots. Lafarge was lit up on the map like a Christmas tree. Other, smaller Special Forces bases in Syria were also depicted on the FitBit map.

When President Trump announced that he was withdrawing all American forces from Syria, the Special Forces soldiers on the ground had to rapidly respond as the Turkish government interpreted this as a green light to initiate their long planned invasion of Syria and create a buffer zone between themselves and the Kurdish enclave known as Rojava.

Once American forces had evacuated the base, F-15 Strike Eagle fighter jets were called in to bomb the ammunition depot left at the base. This was done because Turkish backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) militias would soon be moving in on Lafarge. Turkish backed FSA are known to be little more than criminals if not jihadists themselves.

Back in 2014, Lafarge had asked the United States not to bomb their factory, even as it was occupied by ISIS.

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Reach Jack Murphy: jack@connectingvets.com or @JackMurphyRGR

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