Beirut, London- The US Army enhanced its presence in eastern Syria and deployed HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) missiles to protect its forces and allies in al-Tanf military camp from pro-regime forces attacks at the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian triangle border.
Abu al-Atheer, military spokesman for the US-backed Maghawir al-Thawra rebel group, told Reuters that US forces have spread from their initial location at al-Tanf to set up a second base at Zakf, around 60-70 km to the northeast.
According to Reuters, rebels in Syria said that the expansion of US footprint in Syria’s southeastern desert increases the risk of direct ground confrontation between the Americans and Iran-backed pro-regime forces.
Regional intelligence sources also told the news agency that the US military moved in the last few days a new long-range rocket launcher system from Jordan to al-Tanf, for the first time in southern Syria stepping up its presence in the area.
They said HIMARS, which can fire missiles as far as 300km had been deployed for the first time in southern Syria. They had been previously used to strike militants from positions in Turkey and Jordan.
Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria, said on Wednesday: “We have that garrison in al-Tanf that is a temporary base and location for us to train our partner forces to fight to defeat ISIS, but that is the only base in southern Syria or location where we have coalition forces.”
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that “regime forces launched ground-to-ground missiles towards the city of Daraa,” at a time when a massacre conducted by regime warplanes left 11 people dead, including three children from the town of Tafas, in the west of Daraa.
Also, the Observatory said dozes of people were killed and injured during confrontations between Kurdish militants and opposition factions in the countryside of Aleppo.
Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that regime forces changed direction in the north of Syria, and are now advancing towards the countryside of southern Raqqa, after completely controlling towns and villages in the eastern countryside of Aleppo.
Regime forces took the move after reaching a line of contact with Syrian Democratic Forces in the countryside of southern and western Raqqa.