As US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sat down on Sunday, April 29 in Tel Aviv to discuss the Iranian threat, a Russian-backed Syrian force struck across the Euphrates to capture a string of US-backed fortified Kurdish SDF villages. This incursion of a key US area of influence region in eastern Syria, if confirmed, would rip up a key element of the US-Russian de-confliction zones accord and provide Iran with a springboard for a leap up to the Iraqi border.
Pompeo, on his first Middle East Trip as Secretary of State, reiterated in Tel Aviv – as he did in Riyadh earlier Sunday – that the nuclear deal will need to be fixed or it would be abandoned by President Donald Trump’s on May 12. Standing alongside Netanyahu, the secretary backed Israeli efforts to counter Iran in Syria. He said the US is committed to “rolling back to the full range of Iranian malign influence in Syria,” specifically mentioning “Iran’s missile systems, its support for Hezbollah, its importation of thousands of Shiite fighters into Syria.” Pompeo added, “We strongly support Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself.”
DEBKAfile: This was taken as a US green light for Israel to take on the elements threatening its security from Syria. The secretary also stressed that the US would continue to fight ISIS and not tolerate the Assad regime using chemical weapons.
Our military sources add: If the Syrian push into the US-held region is confirmed, it will tell the Trump administration and its new secretary of state that while they were busy arranging for US troops to leave Syria, Moscow was expanding its support for Iran to move in and deepen presence in that country.
Russia, Iran and Syria were not deterred when their attempt last year to cross the Euphrates was repulsed by the US contingent with heavy casualties inflicted on Russian forces. The same coalition tried again on February 10 and were again thrown back by the US air force. But our military sources report that, on April 13-14, shortly before the US-UK-French missile strike on Syria’s chemical weapons sites, Russian forces were seen transferring to the Syrian army upgraded bridging equipment for their new attempt on Sunday. A few hours after the Syrian army’s claims of success, however, Kurdish troops said they had mounted a counter-offensive and forced the Syrian forces “far away” from the territories they captured.
Pompeo winds up his three-day Middle East tour in Amman before returning home to Washington.