Moscow Acts to Ward off Major US-Iranian Clash over Syria’s Borders
With no one apparently available in Washington to determine what to do next in Syria, Moscow has stepped in to propose informal talks between their professional military commanders on ways to hold the combustible situation building up on Syria’s eastern border in check.
President Vladimir Putin is worried that President Donald Trump may jump back without warning into decision-making mode and set off an uncontrolled military collision with Russian forces.
Using low-level diplomatic and military channels, the Kremlin has therefore invited US officers to join their Russian counterparts for a working session in Amman, at which they would declare certain areas off limits to all military movement, whether by American, Russian, Syrians, pro-Iranian Shiite or Hizballah troops.
Moscow has also drafted a compromise proposal, hoping to persuade Washington and the US military command in Syria to send officers to this rendezvous.
DEBKA Weekly reveals its main elements:
1. The Russian command in Syria is working very hard to halt the Syrian Arab Army’s advance on the Al-Tanf Syrian-Iraqi crossing, which controls the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi border junction and is under US control.
2. Moscow agrees to the US Special Forces and the Syrian Free Army which they sponsor holding on to their gains in the South, including this crossing, without fear of Syrian or pro-Iranian assault.
3. As a quid pro quo for Russian-Iranian-Syrian consent for continued US control of the Al-Tanf crossing, the Americans would accept a Syrian government force going after Abu Kamal, an ISIS stronghold near the Syrian-Iraqi border, 225km north of Al-Tanf (See map).
DEBKA Weekly’s military sources say that if the Syrian army and the pro-Iranian forces, for their part, are left free to take Abu Kamal – and can do so, they would agree to the southern section of the Syrian-Iraqi border remaining in the hands of US and allied forces.
4. The Russian deal on offer also calls for the US to consent to the posting of Syrian government officers (not forces) at the Nasib Border Crossing and the Daraa Border-Ar Ramtha Crossing on the Syrian-Jordanian border.
Our sources report that the American military and other officials are studying Moscow’s compromise draft for de-escalating the critical race for the Syrian-Iraqi border between US and pro-Iranian allies, before it spills over into a military showdown. They have not yet posted their answer – only set forth a pre-condition. As a matter of principle before US-Russian negotiations, Washington wants a consensus of all parties to the establishment of security strips 30-70km deep inside Syria on its border regions with Israel, Jordan, Turkey or Iraq.