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.”