Pentagon officials have just now briefed on the newest escalating situation inside of Syria today. U.S. warplanes have bombed a pro government or pro Assad militia that was threatening the U.S. and British special forces commandos training Syrian anti ISIS fighters today.
The government of Syria has been advancing near the Iraqi, Syria and Jordanian border area near the Syrian town of al-Tanf, trying to dislodge ISIS from its Palmyra and Deir ez-Zur stronghold.
Now nobody knows for sure where any of these secret bases are inside of Syria that the U.S. coalition trains anti ISIS fighters are located, but we do know that the U.S. has been moving a lot of vehicles, tanks and artillery pieces throughout Jordan over the past few weeks. Which has made the Syrian government even more nervous about an American backed invasion. Washington said though, these movements are coinciding with joint military drills with the Jordanian military. The Syrian regime saw the vehicles moving around inside of Jordan amassing at the Syrian border and has sent troops to gain ground in that area.
Why is this border crossing so important? Iran. Iran has already gained a lot of influence in Iraq fighting ISIS and has sent thousands of fighters to Syria as well to ensure Assad stays in power. Therefore this three country border location with the main highways running from Iran to Baghdad and then onto Damascus, is vital for Iran and Syria to keep control of, guaranteeing the weapons and fighters flowing across that border crossing. (follow highways on map)
The U.S. and many Middle Eastern nations want to contain Iran, so the Syrian government has proven it understands the current issues at hand: securing that border crossing.
Getting back to today’s air raid, the map below gives you the area where this happened.
Military officials have stated that about 25 vehicles had been driving towards the anti ISIS coalition’s base near al Tanf. Shortly after locating these vehicles, aircraft were sent to monitor or destroy if needed. With the vehicles still approaching the deconfliction area that the coalition has set up, the aircraft conducted a show of force (flying really low to show off weapons). The vehicles still approaching the base, the fighter jets fired warning shots but the militia vehicles kept driving at the base. Finally, within the 18 mile deconfliction zone of the base, the U.S. aircraft opened fire on the convoy.
This deconfliction zone is an agreement between Russia and the U.S. forces.
Opposition fighters that were in the area have said there have been numerous casualties from that strike with at least four tanks being destroyed and many other vehicles.
Pro government forces have been freed up elsewhere inside of Syria because of the rebel bastions near Damascus have slowly been surrendering and have been transferred to the Idlib countryside. Because these militias don’t have to fight anti government fighters anymore, the Syrian government has sent them to Deir ez-Zur to try and regain some ground from ISIS. Also, Deir ez-Zur happens to be one of the most oil rich parts inside of Syria.
The U.S. has only bombed pro government forces two times before. Last year American warplanes accidental bombed Syrian forces fighting ISIS near Palmyra. The U.S. stated this was an accident. More recently the U.S. sent 59 tomahawk missiles at the Shayrat airfield because of a Syrian chemical weapons attack that killed numerous civilians. This incident makes the number total to three. Two being on purpose and one an accident. That accident though, Russia notified the U.S. that they were bombing the wrong guys but that did not stop the bombing though. You decide if that was an “accident”.
This area will be a hot spot for the foreseeable future. There are so many different actors inside of Syria, that they all must know the al-Tanf border crossing is vital to keep the Iran money, fighters and weapons logistical supply line going. American interests are the complete opposite. The U.S. and coalition says they are fighting ISIS but now they are not backing down on some of their red lines. Like contain Iran, and that the Trump administration has given the power to strike back to the Pentagon.