Incident at Al-Tanf – TTG


Yesterday a CJTFOIR spokesperson issued the following statement concerning an attack on Syrian forces thirty kilometers northwest of the Syrian-Iraqi border crossing of Al-Tanf.

“The coalition struck pro-regime forces that were advancing well inside an established de-confliction zone northwest of Al-Tanf, Syria, May 18, and that posed a threat to U.S. and partner forces at Al-Tanf.  This action was taken after apparent Russian attempts to dissuade Syrian pro-regime movement south towards Al-Tanf were unsuccessful, a coalition aircraft show of force, and the firing of warning shots.  Coalition forces have been operating in the At Tanf area for many months training and advising vetted partner forces engaged in the fight against ISIS.  The agreed upon de-confliction zone agreement remains in effect.”

Al Masdar News was told the following by the Syrian military headquarters in Damascus:

– The U.S. Coalition warplane entered Syrian airspace from the Jordanian border

– A convoy of five T-62 tanks were hit by the U.S. Coalition

– Two tanks were destroyed

– A Shilka was damaged

– Six military personnel were killed and another three were wounded

– Convoy consisted of soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), National Defense Forces (NDF), Hezbollah, and Imam Al-‘Ali Battalions   

First, let’s establish the importance of Al-Tanf. It lies along the Baghdad-Damascus highway on the Syrian-Iraqi border. Its importance to Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon (the dreaded Shia Crescent) should be obvious. That is also why it is so important to the Coalition, the Saudis, Qataris and the Israelis. The Coalition is using the Al-Tanf area as a base for their new unicorn army whose real purpose is, not to fight IS, but to ensure Syria does not regain her territorial integrity. US and British special operations forces are training and equipping rebel units there including the Maghaweir Al-Thawra group. This outfit recently advanced east of Al-Tanf towards the Euphrates. If the SAA took Al-Tanf, these rebels would be cut off from their Coalition support.

The Coalition has unilaterally declared a thirty kilometer or so exclusionary zone around Al-Tanf. Even so, our new unicorns at Al-Tanf have been attacked by IS jihadis at least twice. They have also been attacked by Russian and Syrian aircraft on two occasions. Yesterday, the Coalition decided to enforce their exclusion zone. Syrian forces were denied access to Syrian territory by lethal US force.

Yesterday’s attack on the Syrian column was done with the full knowledge and direction of the CJCS and President. We deliberately risked killing Russian advisors who accompanied this SAA column. This attack exposes this administration’s true objectives in the region. Apologists cannot write this off as some mistake attributed to the fog of war or some clever three dimensional chess gambit. It is a craven embrace of the “Assad must go” policy and everything it stands for.

How will the R+6 respond? The offensive to open the Damascus-Baghdad highway will continue. The assault from the west with the SAA’s 5th and 7th armored divisions has already made good progress in the Al-Sweida Governate against the US-backed Jaysh Assoud Al-Sharqiya. Further north, the SAA’s 5th Legion along with forces from Hezbollah, NDF and the Imam Ali Battalions are poised to resume their offensive towards Al-Tanf. These forces will now, undoubtedly, be accompanied by Russian and Syrian air defense and air support. The SAA column struck by coalition aircraft today was probably just a reconnaissance in force. What’s coming? Here’s a possibility. “And I looked, and behold a pale horse, and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” 


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84 Responses to Incident at Al-Tanf – TTG

  1. Cee says:

    Trump has been taken over by the vipers around him. Behold A Pale Horse indeed.

  2. Barish says:

    Regarding the last paragraph, Mr Magnier voiced much the same conviction that SAA and allies will regain at-Tanf irregardless of this air sortie in this here thread:
    He further goes on to dismiss one goal for this “iron curtain” between Iraq and Syria forwarded by the Reuters agency:
    Which, frankly, makes the murder of those men by the “anti-ISIL coalition” not just more criminal, but even more criminally pointless as well.
    If there’s payback to come from the PMU in Iraq whose comrades were also hit here, the “anti-ISIL coalition” fully earned it.

  3. turcopolier says:

    it now appears to me certain that the US intends to occupy at least the SE quadrant of Syria for the purpose described by TTG. That is to build a force there that can serve as a future means of overthrowing the Syrian government. I fear that Trump under the influence of Mattis/McMaster also gave Erdogan permission to occupy Idlib Governorate in the NW of Syria whenever he thinks that appropriate. From that position the Turkish Army could advance south in conjunction with and behind an advance by the US backed force from the Al-Tanf area. The hard core jihadi rebels in the Idlib Governorate seem to understand this and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (Al-Qa’ida) is moving its fighters into position along the Hatay border to try to resist this. [l

  4. b says:

    @ttg The Coalition has unilaterally declared a thirty kilometer or so exclusionary zone around Al-Tanf.
    Do you imply that or is there any such statement? I have not seen one.

  5. Bruce Irvine says:

    Trump obviously means to split Syria with Turkey and the Jihadis, prior to attacking Damascus, then Iran.

  6. Ghostship says:

    “inside an established de-confliction zone northwest of Al-Tanf”
    Who agreed to the de-confliction zone? Well there is the first BS from CJTFOIR, the nearest de-confliction zone according to the Astana agreement is miles away and since the United States is not a party to the Astana Agreement then any attempt by CJTFOIR to define Al Tanf as being part of a de-confliction is nothing more than really stupid propaganda.
    I’ve seen reports that the convoy was 50 – 60 kms away and consisted of a few tanks and a Shilka which unless the Russians have made a stupendous advance in gun propellant and barrel technologies means they represented absolutely no threat to the New Syrian Army or their alleged US/UK advisers at that point whatsoever.
    I suspect that CJTFOIR is trying to cover up that the either the Jordanians are playing silly buggers for the benefit of their bankers, the Saudis, or a Jordanian pilot took it upon himself to perform jihad in Syria, and both those explanations should worry CJTFOIR. As a rapid response to CJTFOIR being caught unawares, this legend gets a C+ from me, but as the response to something CJTFOIR did themselves it’s a big fat F.

  7. b,
    The CJTFOIR and the Pentagon refer to it as a deconfliction zone in their description of the event.

  8. Ghostship,
    This deconfliction zone around Al-Tanf has nothing to do with the de-escalation zones as specified in the Astana Agreement. I seriously doubt CJTFOIR is trying to conflate the two. The term deconfliction is used to imply that it was a mutual agreement with the Russians. I doubt that’s the case. I think it is just something we informed the Russians about. That’s why I referred to it as a unilaterally declared exclusionary zone.

  9. Lemur says:

    I’m not convinced Russia will put its forces in a position where they are likely to encounter Americans in a hostile environment. The Bear has a history of elliptical responses. All the Great Powers in Syria manevour according to the logic of establishing facts on the ground before a competitor does. The unwritten rule which keeps the jockeying from escalating is that a fact on the ground can’t be challenged directly.

  10. Yeah, Right says:

    From the CJTFOIR statement:
    …”well inside an established de-confliction zone”…
    …”The agreed upon de-confliction zone agreement”…
    Ladies and Gentlemen, our weasel-words for today are “established” and “agreed upon”.
    Any competent reporter who is in receipt of that statement would immediately ask for a copy of that “agreement”, as well as asking when – exactly – that agreement was “established”.
    Dates and times, please, plus a list of names.
    I will now suggest that the odds of any western reporter ever asking for those details is exactly….. zero.

  11. visitor says:

    For those who read French, there is an analysis of the situation and the future developments here:, which also stresses the strategic role of Al-Tanf and a probable push by the USA & allies to control that key town, as well as the border with Jordan.

  12. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    Trump, contrary to all of his bullshit about winding down US involvement in the Middle East, appears to have fallen under the nefarious influence of the NeoCons, and is going to proceed full bore with the prosecution of a naked aggression against Syria. This_will_not_end_well.
    Well, I imagine we would have gotten to this point far earlier if Hillary were in charge, but we’re getting squared up for a major showdown with idiot Trump in charge instead.
    God save us all.

  13. anonymous says:

    east of the jordan 3 cities of refuge.part of the new palestinian state.golan,ramoth, bosor.thats what is called an established deconfliction zone.

  14. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Could it be that this was always the real reason for the Borg support of the PYG and other “kurdish freedom fighters”?
    Ishmael Zechariah

  15. Barish says:

    This keeps getting worse and worse: Not only did the “anti-ISIL coalition” illegally strike Syria’s army, apparently it struck the PMU within Iraq as well, close to al-Bukamal as per this:
    Based on a report by Iraqi TV-channel Afaq, in written form plus video footage found here:
    I can decipher البوكمال, al-Bukamal, in the last paragraph as is, machine-translation of that paragraph reads thus:
    “US aircraft attacked the Islamic Resistance Forces / Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades at the Iraqi-Syrian border, specifically near the Bawakamal crossing to prevent infiltration and attacks on the lands and the Iraqi borders, and the bombing led to the martyrdom and wounding of a number of Mujahideen of the Islamic resistance heroes !!”
    Ample grounds for the “anti-ISIL coalition” to be thrown out of Iraq, at the very least.

  16. TonyL says:

    Hillary is history. So whatever our predicament is, our idiot president Trump owns it.
    It seems we’re screwed either way.

  17. Bill Herschel says:

    Thanks TTG for this analysis. For some reason, and I would love to know why, I have not read anything similar in the mainstream media.
    If U.S. jets get shot down attacking Syrian troops on Syrian territory, I wonder what the public will say. That would be a good topic for discussion.

  18. Ishmael Zechariah,
    I don’t think this was always the reason we provided modest support to the YPG/YPJ through the SDF. As you know I was quite pleased with the light touch of Green Berets spread among the local fighters. My hope was that this light touch would gradually withdraw as the R+6 regained control of Syrian territory from the jihadis. At that point, the Kurds and Damascus would work out their own problems without our interference. It would have been a classic implementation of Special Forces doctrine all the way through the demobilization phase. I was a foolish optimist to cling to that dream. As the US and Coalition effort to supply and direct these forces increased, I feared what you feared. Now I have little doubt we plan on staying in this area permanently to seek the dissolution of the SAR. We are screwing the Kurds and everyone else in the region once again.

  19. Bill H says:

    “Any competent reporter who is in receipt of that statement…”
    That assumes that anyone in the media is a) competent and b) a reporter. Fail on both counts, as the media these days employs nothing but incompetent stenographers.

  20. EEngineer says:

    If the Borg/CFR can keep the public distracted with current DC cirrus act for a few more weeks, they’ll be able to get their war started one way or another. Once hostilities get past a certain point they will be unstoppable. We approach the event horizon…

  21. Poul says:

    Apparently there is an agreement with Russia about a deconfliction zone.
    “A US defense official told Sputnik that the US-led coalition struck the pro-Syrian government forces near the town of At Tanf in the area of an established deconfliction zone with Russia.”

  22. LeaNder says:

    A noter que les zones tenues par les rebelles le long de la frontière syro-jordanienne et syro-irakienne (en bleu sur la carte), soutenus par les Etats-Unis, et récemment actifs dans ce secteur (nous y reviendrons), ne sont pas comprises dans cet accord que les Etats-Unis ont salué tout en exprimant naturellement des réserves à l’égard de son « patronage» par l’Iran. Enfin, les forces aériennes de la coalition internationale ont interdiction de pénétrer dans l’espace aérien de ces zones.
    Still bad on maps, is this “syro-irakienne” region referred to by TTG?
    For the more fast link clickers among us, you should take care of the comma not being too close to your link.

  23. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    Bill Herschel,
    Exactly to the point. This is an attack on Syrian and Syrian-allied troops on Syrian territory by air forces of a nation not invited – and not wanted – under the pretext that they, in defending their foreign-supported insurgents, are merely defending “their” troops, blithely ignoring the national sovereignty of a UN-acknowledged member state.
    I don’t know how you define “aggressive war”, but this sure seems to be a clear example of that crime from which flow all the other abuses condemned by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.
    But I guess that this is all just hunky dory for the “Exceptional Nation”, ’cause that nation is by definition not subject to the same standards which it applies to others being, you know, “Exceptional” and all. Shameful.
    Parenthetically, in line with what Yeah, Right observed above, good luck even having accurate reportage by our Borg Media of the run-up to any hypothetical shoot-downs of US aircraft. It’d all just be cast as an unprovoked, context-free attack on ‘Murica, Beacon of Freedom and Justice. As it always, always seems to be.
    It is difficult to respect your nation when the propaganda justifying actions that are, under any fair-minded assessment, unjustifiable continuously rolls out like a great, turgid flood of sludge.

  24. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades is named after Imam Hussein.
    US has attacked the Party of Ali.

  25. Andrew W says:

    Are dissenting opinions welcome ’round here?
    I’ve consistently opposed the idea that the West’s regime change operation in Syria is actively operational, or that the US intends to occupy any part of Syria. If southeastern or eastern Syria was the objective why did the Southern Front rebels advance west into As-Suwayda and attempt to open a supply line to the rebels in the al-Qalamoun? The previous attempt in that direction by the New Syrian Army was a disastrous misfire and was easily repelled by IS. It makes more sense that the objective of the rebels is securing the Syrian-Jordanian border area.
    The primary development of the SDF operation to isolate Raqqa has forced IS to pull it’s troops from it’s remaining active fronts on the periphery of their Caliphate. This has led to a mad scramble for territory previously held by IS. With the deserts of Southern Syria being just one area up for grabs. I don’t think the military leadership of the SAA likes the idea of any rebel consolidation in the southeastern countryside of Damascus or their advance along the Damascus-Baghdad highway. But I suspect the Iranians are angling for the same objective for different reasons given that the eradication of the IS is pretty much a given.
    Regional powers like Iran are positioning themselves for the next conflict which appears to be a war between Israel and Lebanon/Hezbollah. Control over the Damascus – Baghdad highway is critical for the Iranians/Hezzies. As the repeated Israeli airstrikes on Damascus airport have proven the Iranians can’t move equipment by air into Lebanon without being interdicted. Even though Hezbollah is armed with anti-ship missile launchers any sea lane is similarly under risk of blockade. The only remaining option, and the least desirable imo, is a land route from Iran through Iraq. This is primarily what is being fought over as TTG pointed out.
    I don’t imagine Russia is happy with Syria/Iran about this. The Southern Front has maintained an official cease fire with Damascus since 2016. Additionally, they are members of the Astana cease fire talks that Moscow organized alongside the rebels located in eastern al-Qalamoun. But if Russia launches any retaliatory air strikes we’ll know otherwise.
    I doubt that’ll happen though. It was the SAA & friends who broke that cease fire on May 7th with the attack on rebel positions in Badia.

  26. Babak Makkinejad says:

    R+6 will ignore this clear provocation but continue the war.

  27. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It would be political suicide for the Hashemite King, himself from the Family of the Prophet (& Imam Ali) to wage war against the Party of Ali; in my opinion.

  28. Babak,
    I agree. They will continue their offensive to take Al-Tanf as planned.

  29. DH says:

    Too messy. What are the odds of a de facto division of Syria and western Iraq. Everyone gets what they want, more or less.

  30. BraveNewWorld says:

    As much as I wish the Russians would push back on every one that keeps shooting up Syria with aircraft, so far there is exactly zero evidence that they ever will. If the US declared a NFZ over Syria I don’t think Russia would do a thing about it. Syria is only so important to Russia. Revealing all the secrets of S300/S400 just isn’t in the cards.
    The SAA just doesn’t have any thing that they can use against US jets using stand off weapons or dropping from high altitudes. So far the SAA has shown zero interest in going after Americans on the ground, so the US basically has carte blanche to do what ever they want in Syria.
    Trump is on his way to KSA as we speak to help assemble the Sunni/Israili NATO so I expect the US is laying the groundwork for the great war in the Middle East that the KSA is paying for. With the elections over, I expect Iran to start upping it’s game as they know what is coming due to the Saudis running their mouths about attacking Iran.

  31. visitor says:

    Argh, typepad seems to consider punctuation as part of the HTML link. A lesson for the next time.
    Regarding that region referred to in the article: it precisely includes Al-Tanf. The map “military situation in Syria, May 10th 2017” highlights Al-Tanf as a flash point (with appropriate arrows showing the movement of opposing factions).

  32. A “military source” is cited as claiming:-
    “… one of the vehicles of the Syrian army was equipped with an anti-aircraft weapon and started to fire at the US warplanes and forced them to fly at higher altitudes. “Then the Syrian army’s S-200 air defense shield deployed in al-Dhumayr region in Northeastern Damascus operated to shoo away the US aircraft.
    “The US fighter jets left the region as soon as the S-200 anti-aircraft battalion fire missiles at them, the source confirmed, adding that six Syrian soldiers were killed and three more wounded in the US air raid on the Syrian convoy.”
    A credible source? Or the writer sketching out what he would have liked to have happened, or what he would like to see happen next time?

  33. Red Cloud says:

    It’s unrealistic IMO to think that any force capable of overthrowing Assad could be quietly developed in some desolate corner of the country. Even if these unicorns make it to Deir Ezzor they would just be clearing the way for the SAA. The US coalition is in full desperation at this point because they can’t keep bombing the SAA every few days forever…

  34. kooshy says:

    It’s now obvious that US totally support and sides with Sunni muslims and Russia has set her strategy to support the Shia.
    IMO the problem for US side is that the theater of force concentration Iraq and Syria is historically and traditionally has non- Sunni Arab majority, as matter of fact Sunni Kurds resent and hate Arab and Turk sunnies more than they hate Shia Iranians. Even the Ottoman Turks were not able to change the demography. I can’t see what American forces can archive or for how long they will be willing to pay with blood and resources for support of sunni Arab minority in the area that they cannot control.

  35. Babak Makkinejad says:

    For your entertainment: an Arab urging Trump to become – in effect – the Grand Mufti of Islam.

  36. kooshy says:

    According to Fars News (in Persian) Jordan has announced Jordanian forces had nothing to do with US attack on SAA and allies forces.

  37. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    I would imagine that Jordan probably considers the US policy of cherishing the vipers of jihadism to their breast to serve as their proxy forces to overthrow the Syrian government, and further acting as their air force to protect them from Syrian/Syrian allies trying to enforce their own territorial integrity to be a dubious example to hold up.
    The universalist ambitions of these jihadis against any system other than their own model would be unlikely to be a wholesome paradigm to flaunt about from the Jordanian’s perspective. Yes, they may not love the Syrians in all of their multi-confessional diversity, but once they are done down, why would the jihadis not immediately turn and direct their attention against the Jordanian government as well?

  38. Stumpy says:

    First, let’s establish the importance of Al-Tanf. It lies along the Baghdad-Damascus highway on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

    Another Highway of Death?

  39. The Beaver says:

    I have just been listening to Sec Def Gen Mattis, CJCS Dunford and Pres Trump has accelerated the campaign

  40. b says:

    Ok, get it.
    CJTFOR misappropriated the air deconfliction zone Russia and the U.S. had agreed upon. That then can indeed interpreted as an “exclusionary zone” CJTFOR will exclusionary accept that …
    If they want to keep that zone up CentCom better get the U.S. out of Iraq. More PMU militia will come up to Tanf and get hurt or killed by U.S. forces. Their brothers in Iraq will know how to hit back.

  41. b says:

    I don’t accept the “strategic importance” tale for the Tanf crossing for Iran.
    When the U.S. occupied Iraq and Israel attacked Hizbullah the Iran-Hizb connection continued to work.
    When ISIS controlled the Syrian-Iraqi border the Iran-Syria connection still worked.
    Physical connections between allies are not of utmost importance for these actors.

  42. VietnamVet says:

    This post confirms what I felt when I first heard this, the leadership of the American Empire is unhinged.
    There is literally nothing there at Al-Tanf except the Damarcus Baghdad Road and the borders of Syria, Jordon and Iraq nearby. This is a direct attack against the armed forces of a sovereign nation within their recognized borders. The USA is at war with Syria Arab Republic even if corporate media doesn’t report it. The only reason this happened is that Israel and the Gulf Monarchies requested it. Blood is flowing onto asphalt and desert sand to assure a road stays closed to one of major Abrahamic religions. Indeed, the horsemen of the Apocalypse have been let loose.

  43. The Beaver says:

    The latest I just saw 2 hrs ago, they are less than 50 Kms from Al-Tanf

  44. Castellio says:

    Thanks for the link.
    And I quote: “The Trump administration, working alongside its Arab allies, should promote moderate or quietist forms of Islam, and not remain neutral on religious matters. This means working with Islamic leaders, many of whom are state-funded imams, to challenge jihad on a religious basis and offer a form of faith shorn of violence.”
    As written by one Ahmed Charai: “on the board of directors of the Atlantic Council, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for the National Interest.”

  45. Fred says:

    With whose air force, the R+6 or ours?

  46. Lemur says:

    no, i don’t a land link is ‘critical’.
    Simply because Israel occasionally hits munitions bound for Lebanon doesn’t mean they have shut down supply.

  47. Kooshy says:

    As well as Afghan Shia militia Fatimon

  48. Massinissa says:

    Reminds me of pre-ww2 when Mussolini had himself declared ‘The Protector of Islam’ after he colonized Libya.

  49. turcopolier says:

    “Convoy consisted of soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), National Defense Forces (NDF), Hezbollah, and Imam Al-‘Ali Battalions” I don’t see any PMU in that list of people in the column attacked yesterday. What are you talking about? Do you think the IRAQI PMU will approach the Syrian town of al-Tanf? So what re you talking about? Changing the subject slightly what do you think the future role of the IRAQI PMU will be generally? pl

  50. different clue says:

    In the spirit of “applied kremlinology”, the MSM is a fine place to go to try analyzing the purposes and uses of the various flavors of Borg propaganda and agitation material. It may give a clue to details of policy and strategy and even finer-grained tactics being planned in a way kind-of-reverse to how looking at particle-passage vapor trails in a bubble chamber can tell us what kind of subatomic particles passed through the chamber.

  51. different clue says:

    More specifically, to overthrough the Syrian Arab Republic and establish the Islamic Emirate of Jihadistan.

  52. different clue says:

    Why this total Trump-change away from “Assad can stay” ?
    I begin to think that the multibillionaire Trump-backing Mercer family and their selected-for-Trump thinking-brain dog Bannon viewed Trump as being sort of like the super suit that figured in that movie Iron Man. Whenever the hero of the movie put on the suit, he could use all of its super powers from inside it.
    Mercer and Bannon thought Trump would be Bannon’s “Iron Man Suit”. Bannon would put on the Trump-suit and become the secret President . . . the “president within a President” so to speak.
    What Mercer, Bannon and everyone else are discovering is that if anyone takes off the Trump-suit, then anyone else can grab it and put it on, and then that “anyone else” becomes the “president within a President” as long as he or she or they is/ are wearing the Trump-suit. Right now the Assad-must-go crowd is wearing the Trump-suit. If they take it off for so much as five minutes, Bannon or someone else or some other different someone elses will try to grab it and put it on so they can be the “president within a President” for a day, or an hour, or even just 5 minutes.
    If my feeling is metaphorically correct, then whatever Trump is doing “at this particular moment” can tell us who or what is wearing the Trump-suit “at this particular moment”. It is a heavy price to pay for preventing “HanniBill Lecter” Clinton’s wife from becoming President.

  53. pl and b,
    Barish mentioned a separate attack on a PMU column approaching Al-Tanf from the Iraqi side. Al Masdar issued a report on it with film. This attack was lost in the coverage of the attack on the SAA column in Syria. The madness is breathtaking.

  54. different clue,
    An empty suit. I think you’re on to something. I’m of the opinion he lacks the concentration of a fruit fly except for when he feels slighted or wronged. Then he cannot let it go.

  55. Kooshy says:

    Israel and US/ Europe should take full responsibility for creating a military political environment in Lebanon that necessitated formation of Hizbollah as political security force protecting the Shia. This is also true for formulation of HalS (PMU) militias in Iraq under the highest religious fatawa. I suspect with ISIS militants moving to Afghanistan, Shia leaders will use same proven formula there, to protect Shia hazars. That may also become the medicine in north Arab golf area. There is nothing US or any Iraqi official can do, short of leaving, if a fatwa against US troops in Iraq is issued from Najaf.

  56. plantman says:

    This is just out on RT—“US forces are legally precluded from coordinating with the Russians, General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday. However, the US and Russian militaries have been maintaining multiple communication channels to “deconflict” operations in Syria.
    “We have a proposal that we’re working on with the Russians right now,” Dunford added, declining to offer any details. He did say that it would address the presence of a Syrian government pocket in Deir ez-Zor, halfway down the Euphrates River between the IS (formerly ISIS/ISIL) stronghold of Raqqa and the Iraqi border.
    “The Russians are as enthusiastic as we are to deconflict operations” and focus on fighting IS, Dunford said.
    The comments came after Moscow condemned the US airstrike against a government-allied force near the Jordanian border as “illegitimate and unlawful.” ….” (RT)
    I could be wrong, but it sounds like Mattis and Dunford have changed their tune. Let’s assume that the attack was a message to Russia that attacking US allies in the area was “off limits”. But then the Russians respond by discreetly saying that they would have no option but to retaliate next time the SAA is fired on. I can see Putin doing this behind the scenes in order to avoid any embarrassment or confrontation.
    So, immediately following this secret conversation, the US says “We have a (deconfliction) proposal that we’re working on with the Russians right now.”
    In other words, we have agreed to something, but what is it??
    Not to attack unless we are attacked first? Is that it?
    It sounds like Mattis and the Russians are trying to figure out how they can have their armies operating in the same area (with different strategic objectives) without blowing up the world in the process.
    I’m not sure it can be done.

  57. doug says:

    I’m of the opinion that Trump is being used. The attacks by WaPo and the Times seem almost timed to produce pressure to yield to the desires of the S.A., Turkey, Israel, UAE and their supporters here. Of course they don’t trust him but perhaps he can be manipulated then discarded after everything is set in motion and not revocable.

  58. Castellio says:

    Did Mussolini actually do that? I wasn’t aware.

  59. Barish says:

    I am as yet not quite certain how reliable this user here is:
    “The troops are now located 15Km west of #AlTanaf , waiting to for the #FSA militias to retreat from the area completely.”
    It’s been picked up by another whose feed I keep in my bookmarks, with him adding info that US forces at Tanf would be allowed to withdraw:
    Meanwhile Fadel Jr. advertised reports to be released tomorrow thusly:
    “Huge news from east Sweida and southeast Damascus tonight. Articles coming out soon. US-backed rebels suffer major setback.”
    “Southeast Damascus” probably referring to southeast Rif Dimashq, hence Tanf-area.
    I do hope that somewhere down the US chain-of-command, someone somewhere decided they would not risk Armageddon over a backwater border-post in the middle of nowhere…

  60. Jackrabbit says:

    Cee: Trump has been taken over by the vipers around him …
    JerseyJeffersonian: Trump … appears to have fallen under the nefarious influence of the NeoCons …
    I respect Cee and JJ but this strikes me as apologist talk. Isn’t it more likely that the fix was in – just like with Obama? The parallels are eerie:
    Obama was also politically weakened by crazy critics and his own quixotic desire for bi-partisanship. Apologists wrung their hands over his being forced FORCED to give in to dark forces.

  61. kooshy says:

    Northern Arab part of persian gulf

  62. Alaric says:

    “Cee: Trump has been taken over by the vipers around him …”
    Trump may be sincere in his desire to stomp out ISIS and even Nusra but he hates Iran at least as much so who knows. Everyone is blaming this attack n trump. It seems more likely that this decision made by the military but there is still no reason to trust Trump.

  63. JJackson says:

    As a military outsider it seems to me this is a growing trend in the way special forces are being employed. The aim seems to have changed in to hiding the numbers deployed. Anyone you can deploy and call something other than ‘combat troops’ is the aim. Advisors, trainers, medics,reconstruction assistance, contractors and spooks from the alphabet soup. It is a pop-up army complete with officer corp, budget, logistics, medics – just plug into the data net, add air power and unicorns. Shake well with plenty of propaganda before serving.
    The beauty in the new system lies in the photo-op, the great leader of the day gets his ‘and we did it with out deploying troops’ sound-bite along with classic ‘Job Done!’ thumbs up in the rose garden for the art.
    Special forces of all types seem to being used as the first tools out of the box and not reserved for the jobs only they can do. I assumed it was because they are good at getting the job done under the radar but avoiding press attention does not seem to be a very efficient use of a valuable resource. Is this how you or pl see it or is there something else going on?

  64. turcopolier says:

    b & TTG
    Yes. I read of the bombing at Al-Bukamal. That sounds to me as though the US coalition intends to take control of Deir Az-Zor and wants to prevent an R+6 link up with Iraqi PMU on that axis as well as R+6 movement to the border at Al-Tanf. Someone asked why the R+6 forces are not moving through the Jebel Druze freely. I suppose the answer is that the Kurdish population that dominates the is not “on board.” pl

  65. Gene O. says:

    Chicago has/had a street named after ‘Italo Balbo’ who was the Italian Governor General of Libya from 1934 to 1940. There is also a monument there named for him.

  66. FB Ali says:

    “…the US coalition intends to take control of Deir Az-Zor…”
    That is what the US coalition intended. However, it seems the Russians have stepped in. Besides condemning the US air attack on the SAA at al-Tanf, they have warned the US about eyeing Deir az-Zor:
    “We have a proposal that we’re working on with the Russians right now,” Dunford added, declining to offer any details. He did say that it would address the presence of a Syrian government pocket in Deir ez-Zor, halfway down the Euphrates River between the IS (formerly ISIS/ISIL) stronghold of Raqqa and the Iraqi border.
    “The Russians are as enthusiastic as we are to deconflict operations” and focus on fighting IS, Dunford said.
    ( )

  67. Gene O. says:

    Colonel Ryan Dillon, Coalition spokesman, denied any US or CJTF coalition partner force participation in the Al-Bukamal strike. They had hit some Daesh controlled oil production facilities which were more than 50 kilometers from Al-Bukamal.
    Unsaid by Dillon was who did conduct the strike. However, the Iraqi Air Force has been conducting strikes in Daesh-controlled Al-Bukamal since February. They believe Daeshis use it as a staging base for VBIEDs sent to Baghdad and other points in Iraq.
    Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi has stated in the past that he “would not hesitate to strike terrorist sites in neighboring countries if they threaten the security of Iraq.” He claimed he “obtained approval from the Syrian government.”

  68. Gene O. says:

    I don’t see McMaster and/or Mattis forcing Trump’s hand on this. Trump has always been his own man. He is the boss, this is on him.
    But I do not regret my vote. At least he is still upholding the 2nd amendment. For now anyway.

  69. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    He’s definitely unusual.
    His failure to use conjunctions is noteworthy (i.e.: although, however, consequently, because, additionally).
    Those words in English signify contrasts, nuance, and consequences.
    They also signify coherence.
    ‘Tis a puzzlement.

  70. Henshaw says:

    Whatever its significance in a longer term strategy, the attack has two important short term benefits for the USA.
    – it’s a great visitor’s present for Trump to take when he goes to Saudi Arabia in the next few days. As a demonstration of his resolve, he may be able to better resist giving in on Saudi demands for more extreme action (assuming he wants to …).
    – it maintains the confidence of its Jordan-based rebels that the USA will stand by them. The moment they lose confidence in the USA’s willingness to look after them, they’ll go back to their less lucrative but safer traditional pursuits of smuggling, kidnapping for ransom, and goat-herding.

  71. LondonBob says:

    Trump and Tillerson are new to this. Changing the direction of the ship of state is a slow process, especially when one has few allies and a number who wish to sabotage. Change will, however, happen.
    Obama was an ignoramus with zero executive experience, Trump isn’t.

  72. A.W.,
    The American agenda has been rather consistent, as far as I cam see. That is to dismantle Syria. There doesn’t appear to be a rational strategic objective serving an intrinsic American interest. Instead, we have substituted a carefully nurtured hatred for Iran and Russia. All else, the bogus chemical weapons, human rights, defeating ISIS, etc. are merely tools. The other players have more defined interests in the destruction of Syria. For Israel, it’s better to have a balkanized inert Syria than a coherent state. Also, the way would be cleared for another invasion of Lebanon, this time through the Golan and into the Bekaa Valley, thus taking the defenses from the rear. Perhaps they could finally receive a deed to more of the land they were sold by the great real estate agent in the sky.
    The Saudi interest would be served through the establishment of sharia law and giving Iran a good poke in the eye. The Turks have their own ideas, and so forth.
    The U.S. is “carrying water” for some dubious characters.

  73. Jackrabbit says:

    The ‘forcing’ is being done by political adversaries and media.
    The pertinent question is: is this ‘forcing’ just an excuse for Trump to serve powerful interests. And further, is Trump deliberately ADDING to their case against him?
    You say Trump is his “own man” but that man is very flawed by narcissism and greed. He is, by nature, ready to serve the elite. No ‘forcing’ necessary.
    He just opened a golf course in Qatar with another on the way. He recently obtained financing to build a Dallas hotel with from Turkish and Qatari interests.

  74. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    The link below is pertinent to this thread at the meta level, since it’s about Gen. McMaster who presumably was intimately involved in the decisions leading up to the Al-Tanf attack. Here is a key quote from the piece:
    “The cheers that greeted his appointment in February were predicated on exactly this notion: that McMaster was a tenured radical, an establishmentarian committed to discarding whatever elements of the establishment that needed discarding. Yet McMaster remains a prisoner of ideas formed over half a century ago. He has never once doubted the underlying premises that have guided American foreign policy since World War II. He is unwavering in his belief that the US must continue to serve as the world’s policeman and retain its permanent military mobilization. He has never considered whether the imperial projects undertaken in Iraq and Afghanistan were illegitimate from the start and destined to fail. He has never questioned how Americans’ obsession with security might affect democracy at home. McMaster would have been an adequate, perhaps even excellent, leader if American imperialism had proven to be an unalloyed good. Recent history, though, has demonstrated that ours is a moment that requires a new, post-imperialist understanding of the US’s role in the world. This is something that McMaster is unlikely to provide.”

  75. ancient archer says:

    Beautiful imagery @different clue
    I think you might be right. Think how it will turn out to be if the suit can think after all.
    Trump’s current predicament reminds me of I, Claudius. If you gotta appear dumb to survive, then you do. If, to survive, you need to change colors, then you do. I think Trump’s ability to survive will surprise all

  76. Babak Makkinejad says:

    “Remember the Martyred Omar Mukhtar!”

  77. Barbara Ann says:

    It is my suspicion that the US knows Al-Tanf is untenable, but is unwilling to leave – yet. My reading of the attack FWIW is that it was not a mistake, but may simply have been a tactical move to fend off the advancing forces *until such time as the US can conduct an orderly withdrawal*. Either that or it was a simple PR exercise ahead to Trump’s first “big trip” to the lands of the jihadis’ sponsors.
    Despite it’s title, this CNN article (final para.) quotes the head of Maghawir al-Thawrah as saying he was told they were to be relocated from Al-Tanf (albeit before the strike): It is surely relevant that the US was/is considering this option.
    If US strategy is indeed to prevent Syria regaining territorial integrity, I am struggling to see how holding an isolated desert outpost nominally inside Syria is vital to that aim. Also, it has been argued (by b; Elijah J. Magnier) that the Damascus-Baghdad road itself is not in fact strategically vital. In any case, the southern FSA unicorns seem to be up against an inexorable advance by R+6 forces (Magnier quotes 20,000 Hezbollah & 10,000 SAA re-tasked to the various pushes east – Bombing to keep them at bay again is an option, but I cannot see Mattis’ credibility surviving long if he is forced to deny further involvement in Syria every time such strikes are conducted.
    Re Deir Ezzor, can anyone tell me if it is feasible that US-backed forces can reach it before R+6 do? There has been talk of invasion from Iraq – given recent attacks on Al Bukamal. But the route to Deir Ezzor up the Euphrates is Daesh heartland and would mean advancing through many population centers. Is it really possible this line of approach could be faster that R+6’s route through largely empty desert from Palmyra?
    In summary, I see the strike as, at worst, the hangover from a strategy that the US military must now consider is near impossible – that is to use it’s proxies to retain a portion of SE Syria for future adventurism. If I am wrong, we are clearly in big trouble.
    In related news; Daesh still seem to be able to operate within 30km of Al-Tanf -without interdiction by Coalition airpower:

  78. Tunde says:

    Or he never really meant or understood what he said in the first place, but hey, he got the votes ?

  79. different clue says:

    And if they are all wearing sneakers, then it is oh-so-exquisitely-truthful to say that there are no boots on the ground.

  80. different clue says:

    ancient archer,
    What an interesting extension of my metaphor. Does Trump have an “inner Trump”, however vestigial, which might emerge and take over the Trump Suit from within? Is there still a “real Donald Trump” which could emerge from whatever brain-decay dementia-fog it is often hiding in? Who would this “real Trump” be? What would this “real Trump” do?
    Is the dementia itself part of a Vincent ” the Chin” Gigante
    act? Is there a cold calculating cynical Trump waiting to emerge and have the last laugh upon them all? Stay tuned . . .

  81. Tunde says:

    I’ve watched James Baker and Condi Rice say on CNN that Tillerson, Mattis and McMaster are people with proven track records and reputations. Sounded to me like Borgist talk for we know them and are comfortable things won’t get out of hand. Like a change of direction.
    Not sure what you mean by Trump’s “executive experience” outside of a boardroom. PL has written of how different that is to administrative executive experience. I also wouldn’t call Obama an ignoramus. Narcissistic and hubristic, yep. And that’s why his ineptitude was more damning imho.

  82. Gene O. says:

    He has always been a grandstander, a bullsh!tter, and a con-man. We knew that going in. But better my con-man than their con-man. As long as he upholds the 2nd, I will be OK with all his shady deals with the Turks, or Qataris, or whoever.

  83. There are ways to pick up a snake. This might not be the best.

  84. Imagine says:

    Vapor trails indeed.

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