On Tuesday, May 17, the US expanded its involvement in the war in Syria, and for the first time since the war began in 2011, US F-16 fighter-bombers bombed radical Syrian rebels fighting Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah forces near Aleppo, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources say in an exclusive report.
According to the sources, the targets were mainly troops, positions, and transportation routes of rebel groups such as ISIS and the Nusra Front that also threaten moderate Syrian rebel groups in the area. But there is no doubt that the American airstrikes will help Syrian President Bashar Assad, just like the Russian bombings have done.
The US warplanes took off from Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey and entered Syrian airspace over Idlib province in northern Syria.
Our sources said that the airstrikes were coordinated with the Russian air force command at Hmeymim airbase next to Latakia, and via American and Russian officers operating from the Jordanian capital Amman.
There is no doubt that the intervention was a turnaround by the administration of President Barack Obama that until now had opposed any US air force operation inside Syria due to concern over tipping the balance in favor of one of the warring sides.
There are now no less than ten air forces engaged in the Syrian war: those of the US, Russia, Israel, Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Syria, Turkey and Jordan.
Last week, ahead of the US air force’s entry, the Pentagon reinforced the American special forces troops at Remalan airbase, located in northern Syria next to the Kurdish city of Hassakeh.
Obama previously announced that 250 troops had been deployed to reinforce the 50 already on the ground. But debkafile’s military sources report that the actual number of US soldiers at the base is much higher, and that the troops have attack and transport helicopters that can deliver them within a short period of time to any of the fronts in Syria.
The US air force attacks on the Aleppo and Idlib fronts are expected to continue in the coming days.