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US steps up military efforts to encircle Syria, stifle 'resistance axis': Report

Members of the Syrian Arab Army and the Lebanese Hezbollah forces meet members of Iraqi Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, which is part of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), on the Syria-Iraq border following a joint operation against Daesh in November 2017. (Photo via Almanar)

The United States is engaged in a military campaign seeking to cut off Syria from its neighbors with the aim of weakening the "resistance axis", Beirut-based al-Akhbar paper says.  

The "resistance axis" includes Iran, Syria and other regional countries and forces such as Hezbollah, which are opposed to the US and Israeli agenda to dominate the region.  

Amid an economic embargo, Syria is seeing itself further encircled by the American presence on its borders with Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, the newspaper reported on Thursday.

It said the US, along with Britain, seek to cut off Lebanon from Syria by establishing observation posts and gaining influence within Lebanese border units.

American forces are also seeking to embolden their control over the Jordan-Syria-Iraq border and the occupied Syrian al-Tanf region by setting up fortifications and barbed wire fences.

The US already has two bases north of Jordan and is seeking to build a new base northwest of the country.

Despite Syrian and allied military presence on the Syria-Iraq border, the US presence north and south of the region, along with increased Daesh activity in the desert, have hampered the establishment of a reliable eastern corridor.

The paper concluded that Syria has effectively been encircled by a combination of terrorist groups and Turkish and US-backed forces, leaving the country's eastern access to the Mediterranean as the only reliable channel for exchange of goods.  

On Thursday, Hashem al-Mousavi, the commander of Iraqi Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) known as Hashd al-Sha'abi, said that US forces were seeking to gain control over the strategic Syrian border town of Bukamal and facilitate Daesh entry into the country.

Al-Mousavi said the US military was using a contingent of 18 armored vehicles along with drones to provoke PMU forces in the region into responding in ways that violated the guidelines of the Iraqi military's high command.  

He said the maneuvers were done in order to create splits in Iraq's security operations and strengthen Daesh presence in the area by providing the terrorists cover through the al-Tanf military base.

The American provocations come as Syria and Iraq have both gradually succeeded in putting down a foreign-backed terrorist insurrection in both countries.

Iran has been offering military advisory support to Iraq and Syria at the request of their governments, enabling their forces to speed up gains on various fronts against the terrorist groups.

Baghdad and Damascus have also been expanding political and economic ties with Tehran as they seek assistance in the post-war reconstruction of their countries.

Alongside important new economic agreements with both Iraq and Syria, Iranian First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri spoke of an initiative to link the three countries "via rail and road" earlier this month.

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