Trump's supporters have boasted that his meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 conference last week was a success because he brokered a ceasefire in Syria, but it's not clear if a ceasefire agreement of any substance actually exists.
Pentagon officials who spoke to Buzzfeed News say they don't know anything about a ceasefire.
US military officials said they don’t have any formal role in the ceasefire, or in monitoring or enforcing it in any way. It is unclear whether the US military is collecting intelligence in the area that might be useful in highlighting violations.
“You’d think we would be a part of it,” one US military official explained.
The lack of US involvement in monitoring the ceasefire raises questions about how effective the deal will be, and who precisely is enforcing it.
A State Department spokesperson told Buzzfeed News that Pentagon officials are not out of the loop, but we have little reason to believe anything the current State Department under secretary Rex Tillerson says.
This is reminiscent of a recent event in which the White House and Rex Tillerson scolded Syria for preparing to launch a chemical weapons attack. Pentagon officials also had no idea what that was all about.
Assuming an actual ceasefire agreement exists with actual enforcement mechanisms in place (that the Pentagon isn't aware of) to sustain it, it appears the portion of Syria that's been ceremoniously declared a ceasefire zone is relatively empty or devoid of activity.
Southwest Syria hasn’t been a US military priority because few ISIS forces operate there. According to a review of daily US Central Command statements on military actions against ISIS, there have been no US coalition airstrikes in the area in the last month. Throughout the nearly three-year US-led air campaign against ISIS, airstrikes in southwest Syria have only been sporadic.
This may boil down to Trump and the Kremlin announcing a meaningless agreement for purely optical reasons. I'm betting on that.