Full Pro-Iranian Shiite Mobilization against US Bid for Syrian Borders

Tehran executed large-scale military movements across the Syrian map this week, as well as pulling in Iraqi PMU-affiliated Shiite militias from southern Iraq. They were positioned in east Suweida and the Eastern Qalamoun mountain region, alongside the Syrian government’s military forces reinforcements moving in to fight for control of Syria’s Jordanian and Iraqi borders.
On Monday, May 15, Iranian and Hizballah military officials in Damascus announced that the Lebanese Hizballah had dispatched 12 regiments of hundreds of fighters to the Homs, Deraa and Quneitra regions of southern Syria near the borders with Jordan and Israel. They were under orders to prevent the “US-backed militants” at the Al-Tanf border crossing from advancing towards the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ez-Zour.
The same officials disclosed that the Syrian army and pro-Iranian militia groups would deploy additional forces along the Syrian-Iraqi border and jointly conduct a large-scale operation in central Syria.
All these forces are massing for a major showdown with US-led forces to recapture the strategic Al-Tanf Border Crossing between Syria, Jordan and Iraq, which lies 100km from the recently captured Zaza checkpoint that controls the Damascus-Baghdad Highway.
In their first encounter, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their allies from the National Defense Forces (NDF) prevailed over the US-trained Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) units in the eastern countryside of Al-Suweida this week.
Tehran’s large-scale military movements in Syria were prompted by US, Jordanian and British special operations forces crossing into southern Syria from Jordan on Sunday and Monday, May 13-14. But they were long planned to overshadow the US President Donald Trump’s Middle East trip in the third week of May.
To disguise the scale of the crossing, Western intelligence officials reported that only anti-Assad Free Syrian Army (FSA) troops, trained by American instructors in Jordan, had entered southern Syria to block off an Iranian-backed Syrian army move to seize the Jordanian and Iraqi borders.
But the BBC ran photos of British SAS troops in Syria in a story affirming that US, British and Jordanian special operations forces had spread out at a distance of 24km from each other, ready to fight for the Al-Tanf crossing.
Inside the crossing (see attached map), which commands the highways from Baghdad to Amman in Jordan, and Damascus and Palmyra in Syria, US and British troops were filmed throwing up fortifications against an apparently impending assault by Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah forces to seize the facility.
On Monday, too, US commando reinforcements were seen continuing to arrive at the crossing.
(The US coalition force is a lot more extensive and complex than depicted by either side, as we reveal in the lead item of this issue.).
DEBKA Weekly’s sources add that Tehran and Damascus had long planned to ignite military clashes with American special operations, air force and naval units during President Trump’s visits to Saudi Arabia (May 22) and Israel (May 23-24). They aim to spark flames on Syria’s borders with Jordan, Iraq, and possibly Israel, to envelope and diminish the big plans Trump plans to unveil in the Middle East.
Three weeks ago, the Iranian Abnak News Agency (the mouthpiece of former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaei) set the scene in a story depicting the Americans as “preparing an attack that could be far more extensive than their missile strike on Syria’s Shayrat air Base,” because of the need to “boost the morale of anti-regime rebel groups.”
Russian and Iranian military officials have offered the Assad government ground troops if Damascus needed help to fend off this attack, said the report.
Other Iranian sources reported American and Jordanian forces mobilizing on the Jordanian border. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at some point that Moscow was monitoring this buildup of coalition forces on Syria’s southern border.
Damascus and Tehran see Washington’s disclosure on the night of May 15 of a crematorium near Damascus for burning the evidence of thousands of executions at the notorious Saydnaya prison, as a ploy to prepare the ground for a US-led offensive against the Assad regime. Officials there postulate that if the Trump administration was capable of firing scores of Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian Shayrat air base in retaliation for a Syrian chemical attack killing 100 people at Khan Sheikhoun, how much greater would its punishment be for the tens of thousands of murders and other atrocities of which they accuse the Assad regime?
Israel reacted early this week to the rising tensions to the north by placing its military forces on elevated war preparedness along its borders with Syria and Lebanon.

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