TAMPA — The battlefield can get confusing in Syria.

Recently, an airstrike killed 18 Syrian fighters allied with the United States.

It was the third strike that has killed civilians or allies in the battle versus ISIS.

So, who’s good? Who’s bad? And what’s really going on in Syria?

I went through the last month of reports from CentCom and Human Rights watch. Those three instances that killed or wounded our allies or civilians are under investigation as friendly fire from either U.S. or coalition forces.

And it's no surprise. There are so many players on the ground in Syria right now.

There's Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah.

The Rebels include fighters backed by the U.S. - Turkey - and the Gulf States.

What complicates things - some Rebels include ISIS fighters.

And if you think that's confusing, take it from a retired Army lieutenant colonel. He's a Syria expert who used to work at CentCom in Tampa.

RIVERA: How does something like that happen? How does it come about?

GREG CELESTAN (retired Army lieutenant colonel, Russia & Syria expert): Well one of the things that people need to understand is everyone's not wearing a uniform. So it's not like a movie where you see one side has one type of equipment with her wearing her uniform and the other side has another. We're all kind of mixed in there. So, it's really hard to determine who is who in this conflict.

So when we are fighting, the only way we can really did conflict it is if we're talking to them. And sometimes we don't have communications with some of the groups were backing. So it's going to happen, probably again, we are going to see situations where there's going to be fratricide or someone we didn't want to attack is going to be attacked.

RIVERA: Fighting these terrorist groups, it's kind of like cutting off the head and having three more sprout up.

CELESTAN: Absolutely. So then your decision is, do you stay with the groups you now and kind of do something to give them legitimacy and hold them and power so you can negotiate with them and maybe find some type of peace. Or do you keep going through each group in another group forms that might be worse than the group you just to feed it. So it's very complicated and no one really has an answer to that. You don't know until the next group comes along.

So when we were trying to defeat al Qaeda we thought, ‘well this is great, we've taken out the leadership of al Qaeda.’ Now ISIS is a derivative of that and they're worse.

So what comes next? We don't know.





Greg Celestan


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