Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

International Ground Troops Cutting off Regime Ambitions on Securing a ‘Tehran-Damascus’ Trail | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A picture taken on November 7, 2013, shows a pro-regime tank driving through the streets of Sbeineh south of Syrian capital Damascus. (Photo: AFP – STR)

Beirut- International coalition ground troops were deployed on Wednesday from Tanf military outpost in eastern Syria to stage special operations against ISIS targets, Syrian rebel sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Led by the United States, dispatched coalition troops included a tripartite of US-British-Norwegian forces.

Rebel sources believe that the special taskforce’s engagement is a step towards inhibiting regime forces from reaching far into eastern land enclaves which border Iraq.

If regime forces succeed in doing so, they would secure a ‘Damascus-Baghdad’ route first, and a ‘Tehran-Damascus,’ direct pathway later.

As for stumbling peace talks, a Syrian opposition negotiator told Asharq Al-Awsat that United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura had rolled back his proposal on re-establishing a consultative mechanism to draft a new constitution for Syria.

De Mistrua’s withdrawal came after the strong opposition of Syrian rebels. However, a group will be assembled to discuss the present constitution, sources said.

The Syrian opposition delegation attending the Geneva negotiations has remained committed to reviewing the constitution whilst undergoing political transition. Political vacuum is not a reason for fear, Syrian opposition sources said.

The ongoing round of Syria talks, which concludes on May 19, will be organized slightly different compared to the previous ones, as the sides are going to have businesslike intensive meetings and are not going to deliver press stakeouts.

The sixth round of UN-backed negotiations is the latest drive to bring a political solution to the conflict which has claimed more than 320,000 lives since 2011.

As for field developments, Syrian rebel fighters based in the eastern Damascus neighborhood of al-Qadm have resumed negotiations with regime forces that continue to push for undisputed control over the area.

Regime forces persistently seek to dislodge, not only rebels, but also their civilian families. Unlike other areas that witnessed accords, regime troops want to displace the families in al-Qadm towards the north.

On another front, US-backed Syrian rebels are fighting with American ground forces against ISIS in Syria’s eastern desert, rebel commanders told Syria Direct, aiming to capture strategic points in Deir e-Zor province and “outmaneuver” pro-regime militias.

US-trained and funded rebels with the Free Syrian Army faction Maghawir a-Thawra (MAT) battled ISIS jihadists along the border of Homs and Deir e-Zor provinces. Wednesday’s battles are the latest in the US-led coalition’s bid to take control of a strategic population center along the Iraqi border.

The goal of the US-backed Syrian rebels in the Syrian Badia—the largely unpopulated stretch of desert spanning much of the far east of the country—is to push 80km west “to cut off ISIS and liberate al-Bukamal from their terror,” said commander Abu Howsha.