ROYAL Air Force Tornado fighter bombers have joined the US air force in bombing raids in Iraq’s western Al Anbar province, particularly in the area along Iraq’s border with Syria.
The US has been saying for some time that Arab volunteers and Syrian nationals have been crossing that border into Iraq and have built up facilities in Al Anbar province near to the border that must be destroyed.
The US has delivered a number of warnings to Syria to stop aiding the Iraqi insurgents, despite Syrian protests that it is doing everything that it can to seal its desert border with Iraq, and that it has even handed over Ba’athists who were intent on crossing the border to US forces occupying western Iraq.
British involvement in the US bombing raids constitutes an undoubted and unprecedented escalation of the Iraq war, and brings the prospect of ‘hot pursuit’ raids into Syria, and clashes with the Syrian armed forces that much closer.
The scenario is that at the end of the current operations the US will declare that Syria is still taking no notice of all of the warnings that it is being given, and that the penetration by insurgents is increasing, necessitating tough US action, including ‘hot pursuit’ and taking action against alleged Iraqi insurgent positions inside Syria.
Then the US airforce, with British active support, will start bombing inside Syria, with the US declaring that the key to ending the war in Iraq is getting rid of President Assad.
This is what is now being prepared by the joint US-British air-raids along the Iraq-Syria border.
The US has more than enough fighter bombers and gunships of all kinds at its disposal for any engagements that may become necessary.
The British participation in bombing raids in Al Anbar province is politically necessary for preparing the next stage of the war, its expansion into Syria.
However, the war is being escalated right at the point where resistance to it is escalating rapidly both in the US and the UK.
For the first time, US opinion polls are showing that a majority of the US people are both opposed to the war and for the withdrawal of all US forces.
When Reg Keys recently addressed a Senate committee on the illegal nature of the war that had cost his son his life, he was surprised by the degree of support for his position amongst the listening senators.
Now a group of US congressmen has held a hearing into a Labour government memo that confirms President George Bush decided on the Iraq war months in advance, and that the facts were then fixed to fit that position.
The hearing comes as polls show nearly three-quarters of Americans view the US casualty rate in Iraq as unacceptable with over 1,715 dead and 15,000 very seriously wounded.
In Britain, two recent trade union conferences called for action on Iraq. The PCS called for an immediate with- drawal of all British troops from Iraq, and the CWU called for the date to be set for the beginning of a withdrawal.
The time has come for mass trade union action both in the UK and the US to stop the war.
In Britain, trade unions must put down an emergency motion for September’s TUC conference, that in view of the escalation of the war in Iraq, and the dangerous trend to spread it into Syria, that there must be an immediate withdrawal of all British troops from Iraq, and that the trade unions will take strike action against the Blair government to achieve this aim.