By Robert Inlakesh
The US military is readying approximately 2,500 service members for deployment in the West Asian region, as its proxy forces in Syria’s northeast and al-Tanf areas seek potential alliances with Takfiri terrorists in the northwestern Idlib province.
With tensions boiling between the Syrian government-aligned forces and the US occupation troops in the war-ravaged Arab country, it might be a sign of more violence on the way, observers believe.
According to a report published in New York local media in mid-July, some 2,500 10th Mountain Division soldiers were being sent “off to combat” in Iraq and Syria.
It is not exactly clear how many soldiers from the light-infantry division will be dispatched for operations in the two West Asian countries.
However, the number of forces being sent rings true with a report from the Turkish newspaper, Yeni Safak, that claimed Washington was preparing to send 2,500 troops to northeast Syria.
The US currently maintains, at least publicly, that it has around 900 active-duty service members deployed to Syria, a number which is speculated to be much higher.
If the US is indeed sending additional forces to the region, it could indicate that its objectives have slightly changed in the northeast of the country.
At this time, the Americans occupy roughly a third of Syrian territory and do so without any congressional approval, through its occupation - which it uses the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to maintain - it holds hostage the most fertile agricultural lands and roughly 90 percent of Syria’s natural gas from the Damascus government.
Over the past years, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies based in the Deir Ezzor province, have grown tired of continued US troop presence inside their territory.
On March 23, the US Department of Defense (DoD) announced “retaliatory strikes” against targets in Deir Ezzor, following a UAV strike against its forces in al-Hasakah.
“Earlier today, a US contractor was killed and five US service members and one additional US contractor were wounded after a one-way unmanned aerial vehicle struck a maintenance facility on a coalition base near Hasakah in northeast Syria at approximately 1:38 p.m. local time,” stated the announcement.
The US coalition airstrikes triggered an unusually extensive response from the SAA and its allies, which fired back and inflicted six traumatic brain injuries, according to the US reports.
At the time, back in March, a Syrian political source told me that the recent move by Syria and its allies was a “direct response” to a wave of Israeli escalation against the country that began last year.
“If you remember in August of 2022, there was a similar stand-off between the Americans and resistance forces in northeastern Syria,” he said, pleading anonymity.
I was also informed by a second source that an order had been given at the time to directly target Americans and not just fire warning shots. However, no further details were divulged.
In mid-July, the US began fortifying its occupation bases surrounding the Conoco and al-Omar oil and gas fields, with forces belonging to their SDF proxies.
According to an Al-Mayadeen source at the time, Washington informed the SDF and its affiliated militias “to prepare for any attack on the region from the Western banks of the Euphrates River” and the US “tasked the Free Syrian Army to mobilize, to face any attack on the 55-kilometer area in Al-Tanf".
Reports that surfaced on pro-opposition ‘Syria TV’ indicated that the Idlib province-based terrorist group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, had hosted several SDF delegations from northeast Syria over the span of months.
The two parties had allegedly concluded agreements on the transport of fuel from Syria’s north-east to Idlib, which appears to have come after Hayat Tahrir al-Sham began facing mounting pressure from Turkiye in northern Aleppo.
The talks between the dominant Idlib Takfiri terrorist group and the SDF apparently explored the possibility of a joint Hayat Tahrir al-Sham-SDF civilian administration with the SDF reportedly claiming that the US supports the idea of unifying the two militant strongholds.
A source who has intimate knowledge of the current security situation in Syria, and who chose to remain anonymous, told the Press TV website that “these moves are complicating, even if this does not amount to an offensive, the only thing that will change the current scenario is a Turkiye-Syria normalization and a possible anti-SDF operation”.
What is also of interest to these developments is that US-Russia relations inside Syria are also deteriorating, with Washington accusing a Russian fighter jet of damaging a US drone on July 23; allegedly using flares to cause the damage.
The terrorist stronghold of Idlib and the US proxies in both northeastern Syria and al-Tanf are seemingly coming together, at a time when American troops are being deployed to the area amid tensions between their occupying forces and the Syrian government’s military.
A possible way forward, in the event that the US carries out a new offensive strategy against the SAA and its allies in Syria, is through the possible normalization of ties between Ankara and Damascus, according to observers.
Despite there being no breakthrough between Turkiye and Syria, the two states are engaged in a dialogue that is aimed at a restoration of ties between them.
Experts say the reason why this is so crucial to combating any potential American plots against the Syrian government and its allies is that Ankara’s cooperation with Damascus could bring an end to many of the various territorial issues in the country.
Turkiye currently occupies two small pockets in the north of Syria, while it actively threatens an offensive against the Kurdish SDF, which it accuses of being run by the YPG and hence a terrorist threat on its border.
If Turkiye forces an incursion into northeastern Syria, dealing another significant blow to the Kurdish armed groups there, it will also force the US to again abandon its SDF proxies, as happened in 2018 and 2019.
If the US withdraws temporarily, this would provide the perfect opportunity for the SAA and its allies to cross the Euphrates River and liberate their oil fields, which the SDF would not likely be capable of holding by themselves.
This is why, in the event that Washington is implementing a new strategy to further punish Syria and its people, a Turkish military offensive may be the simplest way to quickly put an end to it.