By Protecting Syria’s Idlib, US Created Safe Haven for Baghdadi & ISIS

October has been a tough month for the motley crew of self-styled Syria experts and regime-change diehards who spent years cheering on the so-called “moderate rebels.”

First, the “Free Syrian Army” fighters they had long championed were finally and undeniably exposed as the brutal extremists they always were.

All it took for the curtain to be pulled back was for President Donald Trump to green-light a Turkish invasion of Syria, and those once-“moderate” CIA-trained contras who had long terrorized civilians in Syrian government territory were revealed to be Turkish-backed mercenaries, slaughtering and beheading their way throughout the Kurdish-majority regions of northeastern Syria.

As The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal reported, 21 of the 28 former Syrian “rebel” factions employed in Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria were previously armed or trained by the U.S.

Almost as soon as that episode was in the rear-view mirror, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed by a U.S.-led operation in Idlib, the northwestern Syrian provence controlled by Syria’s local al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

Even as U.S. officials acknowledged that Idlib was home to the largest faction of al-Qaeda fighters since 9/11, supporters of regime change and the U.S. government itself fiercely protected the province, upholding it as the last rebel stronghold resisting the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

With Baghdadi’s killing, they were forced to contend with the fact that they helped provide a sanctuary to the bloodthirsty ruler of ISIS.

Following Trump’s announcement of Baghdadi’s death, mainstream pundits homed in on Trump’s hyperbolic commentary — “he died like a dog, he died like a coward” —  and sneered at the president’s compliments to Russia, Turkey, and Syria for not obstructing the operation.

But the proverbial elephant in the room continued to go unnoticed, or ignored: The U.S. had been using diplomatic leverage and threats of military force to keep Baghdadi’s hosts in power.

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