Beirut- Syrian forces and their allied militias reached the Iraqi border on Friday, achieving Tehran’s strategic objective in linking the Syrian border with Iran via Iraq and guaranteeing a meeting point for Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces and groups backed by Tehran in Syria.
Syrian regime and “Hezbollah” media outlets said on Friday “army units in cooperation with allies managed to arrive at the border… with Iraq” and “set up positions in an area northeast of al-Tanf”.
The latest developments raised concern among opposition ranks.
But an informed opposition source told Asharq Al-Awsat that it would be difficult for the forces that reached the area to consolidate their positions there unless they bring in more reinforcements.
He held the US responsible for the ability of Syrian forces to reach the Iraqi border. “It has either neglected the issue or stirred clear of deescalation. But the US administration’s announcement that its primary objective is to stop Iranian expansion is not achieved this way.”
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier said dozens of pro-regime forces from non-Syrian nationalities had arrived at the point on the Syria-Iraq border around 70 kilometers north of al-Tanf.
Tensions around the al-Tanf garrison have surged as pro-regime troops look to expand their influence.
The US has in recent weeks conducted three strikes against pro-regime forces it deemed to be threatening al-Tanf.
Forces from the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq are using the garrison to stage attacks against the militants and train Syrian rebels to fight them.
On Thursday a US jet shot down a pro-regime combat drone that fired what turned out to be a dud bomb at US-led coalition forces close to the garrison near the Jordanian border.