Iran, Syria, Hizballah Intent on Pushing the Americans out of Al-Tanf
Since March 2017, US and other Western special forces have held onto a key base at the strategic al-Tanf crossing in the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border near the main highway connecting Baghdad, Damascus and Amman. The base is also used by US-trained and equipped Syrian rebel groups.
But this week, Syria, Iraq and Iran began pumping heavy military strength to the Al Tanf sector, accompanied by an Iranian propaganda campaign, assisted by Moscow, which was designed to intimidate the Americans posted at the garrison and discredit their mission, until they were forced to pull out.
On Aug. 30, Iranian media ran photos of heavily-armed pro-Iranian Iraqi Harakat Nujaba militiamen deploying in southern Syria. What for?
The Tasnim news agency, a Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) mouthpiece, explained:
“Since it was revealed that America is supporting ISIS logistically and materially (sic) at the Iraqi-Syria-Jordan border triangle, the Islamic movement of Harakat al-Nujaba (photo) has stepped up the deployment of its combatants to eliminate members of the Takfiri [ISIS] terrorist group.”
The photos show Iranian-led Iraqi militia forces in the Syrian Desert advancing in tanks and pickup trucks towards al-Tanf, laden with RPGs and other heavy weapons.
Three days earlier, Iranian media depicted a funeral procession of Nujaba militiamen killed fighting at Al Tanf. It was attended by hundreds of senior commanders of the pro-Iranian Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, who were chanting slogans against ISIS and the United States.
According to comments in Iranian media, especially those identified with the IRGC, Iran seems convinced that the US can be terrorized into quitting the strategic border post by overwhelming military force. Some months ago, US warplanes struck a Syrian government contingent that threatened a US-backed rebel militia. Tehran appears ready to test US red lines and resolve once again.
On Aug. 31, Moscow pitched in to support the Iranian campaign with an article in Sputnik News titled: “US-backed Rebels Sell Guns to Daesh.”
One Muhammad Assalam, who is presented as a former security head of “the Syrian sector of the base,” is quoted as saying that Washington was “made aware of the situation.”
He claimed that Syrian rebels sold ISIS US-made weapons, vehicles, anti-tank grenade launchers, and a large number of M-16 rifles. At their last US check of inventory, said Assalam, “They found that 4,700 rifles were missing.”
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