From MPN News:
DAMASCUS, SYRIA — As things in Syria seem poised to heat up dramatically in the coming weeks, CNN has reportedthat Russia has warned the U.S. that the Russian and Syrian militaries are prepared to launch an offensive on the Al-Tanf military base in Syria, an installation that has been controlled by the U.S. military since 2016.
According to U.S. defense officials who spoke to CNN, Russia has warned the U.S. military twice within the last week alone that its forces, as well as those of the Syrian military, are poised to launch an attack on the base’s “deconfliction zone.” The deconfliction zone is a 34-mile (55-kilometer) radius around the base that the U.S. has unilaterally enforced even though it is not internationally recognized. In the past, the U.S. has attacked the Syrian military and allied forces that have approached the deconfliction zone, which the U.S. later justified as an act of “self-defense.“
Quotes from defense officials included in CNN’s report make it clear that such claims of “self-defense” would likely be used again if the U.S.’ presence in al-Tanf or the deconfliction zone is challenged. One official told CNN that “we have absolutely advised them [Russia] to stay out of al-Tanf. We are postured to respond,” while another stated that “if attacked, the United States will not hesitate to use necessary and proportionate force to defend U.S., coalition, or partner forces.”
It is these “partner forces” that would be the focus of a future Syrian-Russian military campaign in the area, as the recent warnings from the Russian military regarding a potential future offensive centered around concerns that “militants,” including terrorists, are present throughout the area protected by the U.S. Such charges are not new as, earlier this year, Russian Deputy Minister of Defense Alexander Fomin accused the U.S. of willingly creating a “reserve for terrorists” in the area surrounding al-Tanf.
However, the U.S. has long maintained that it uses the site to train “partner forces” that are engaged in fighting Daesh (ISIS) terrorists. The name of the rebel militia at the base is Maghaweir Al-Thawra, formerly the New Syrian Army, which is funded and equipped by the CIA and trained by U.S Special Operations Forces for military operations in the Deir Ez-Zor province. That province is largely occupied by the other U.S. military proxy, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Though the U.S.-trained “partner forces” in al-Tanf were originally trained to counter Daesh, this objective has since shifted to one of countering Iran’s military presence within Syria, as Iranian military officials have acted as advisors to the Syrian military over the course of the conflict…