World View: U.S. Warplanes Strike Syrian Regime Military Convoy Near al-Tanf Base

Syria: U.S. Blames ‘Unintentional, Regrettable Error’ for Attack on Assad Troops

This morning’s key headlines from

  • US warplanes strike Syrian regime military convoy near al-Tanf base
  • Al-Tanf becomes a military flash point because of strategic value

US warplanes strike Syrian regime military convoy near al-Tanf base

Al-Tanf is on the Syrian side of Iraq's al-Waleed border crossing, and is on the strategic Route 1 highway between Baghdad and Damascus
Al-Tanf is on the Syrian side of Iraq’s al-Waleed border crossing, and is on the strategic Route 1 highway between Baghdad and Damascus

American warplanes launched a series of airstrikes on Thursday against a military convoy of pro-regime militias fighting in Syria. This is the second time in the last few months that American forces have intentionally struck military targets supporting the regime of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad.

The first time occurred in April, when American ships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea launched dozens of cruise missiles at the al-Shayrat Airbase in Syria. That airbase was chosen because it is the base from which Bashar al-Assad one week earlier launched a horrific Sarin gas on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, killing up to 100 people.

Thursday’s attack was on a pro-Syrian regime convoy headed in the direction of an American training camp at the border town al-Tanf in Syria, near the border with Iraq and close to the Jordan border.

Originally there were thirteen vehicles in the convoy headed for al-Tanf. US warplanes were scrambled in a “show of force” to dissuade the convoy from proceeding further. According to some reports, there were “Russian attempts to dissuade pro-regime movement.”

After the show of force, five of the vehicles continued approaching the base. When they were within 29 km of the base, they were hit by US aircraft.

It is believed that the militia forces in the convoy were not from the regular Syrian army, but were Shia militias coming either directly from Iran or from Iran’s puppet Hizbollah militia in Lebanon. Although some vehicles were destroyed, it’s not known whether there were any casualties. AFP and CBS/AP

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Al-Tanf becomes a military flashpoint because of strategic value

Al-Tanf is a Syrian border town on the other side of the border with the Iraq town of al-Waleed, which is a major border crossing between Iraq and Syria. The two towns lie on Route 1, the principal highway that runs between Iraq’s capital Baghdad and Syria’s capital Damascus, and also forks off to Jordan’s capital Amman.

Militants from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) captured the al-Waleed border crossing two years ago in May, 2015, during the sweep that gave ISIS control of a great deal of territory in Syria and Iraq. As ISIS faced numerous counterattacks, al-Waleed was recaptured from ISIS by the Free Syrian Army in May of 2016. Even though it’s no longer under ISIS control, it still retains enormous strategic value. ISIS fighters have repeatedly attacked the al-Tanf base, and had to be repelled by US Special Operations Forces.

Two days ago, Iranian state Fars news agency said the following:

The sources said that the Hezbollah Movement has deployed 12 regiments with 1,000 fighters to Homs, Dara’a and Quneitra to face the US-backed militants in al-Tanf border crossing and foil Washington’s plan for the capture of Deir Ezzur.

The sources said that the Syrian Army troops and their popular allies are trying hard to intensify their operations in Badiyeh (desert) to reach the border with Iraq and Jordan to prevent the militants backed up by the US and Jordan from attacking Deir Ezzur via the Syrian border with Jordan.

The border crossing is at the intersection of Syria, Iraq and Jordan, and Route 1 also forks off into Jordan, linking up to the capital city Amman. Reports indicate that there has been increased military activity in the region, and that there is a race to reach the border between US, British and Jordanian special forces, on the one hand, and Syrian, Hezbollah and Iranian forces on the other hand. BBC (22-May-2015) and Fars (Tehran) and CNN and Debka

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, al-Tanf, al-Waleed, Iraq, Jordan, al-Shayrat, Khan Sheikhoun, Iran, Hezbollah, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh
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