Illegal US Garrison in Southern Syria Reportedly Attacked by Drones

© Staff Sgt. Jacob ConnorMembers of 5th Special Forces Group (A) conducting 50. Cal Weapons training during counter ISIS operations at Al Tanf Garrison in southern Syria on November 22, 2017.
Members of 5th Special Forces Group (A) conducting 50. Cal Weapons training during counter ISIS operations at Al Tanf Garrison in southern Syria on November 22, 2017. - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.12.2021
The United States set up a major military outpost at the Al-Tanf border crossing in 2016, under the pretext of fighting Daesh (ISIS).* Damascus has repeatedly demanded that US forces withdraw from the country. Syria and its allies have also accused Washington of using the base to retrain over 1,200 militants.
The US military has reported downing a small drone believed to be ‘threatening’ forces at the Al-Tanf garrison in southern Syria, with a second drone reportedly flying away.
“Two unmanned aerial systems (UAS) were tracked entering the Al-Tanf Garrison Deconfliction Zone on the evening of December 14th. As one of the UAS continued its course deeper into the Al-Tanf Deconfliction Zone, it was assessed as demonstrating hostile intent and was shot down,” USCENTCOM spokesman Capt. Bill Urban told reporters on Thursday, referring to the US name for the illegal outpost.
The military did not elaborate on the nature of the threat posed by the drones, and whether or not they carried any explosives or other weapons. Urban indicated that that no casualties or damage to the base were caused by the attempted incursion.
A second military official told US media that the drone that was destroyed was downed in an air-to-air strike, and did not approach close enough to the outpost to threaten the estimated 200 US troops stationed there. The official said both drones were believed to be operated by ‘Iranian-backed Shia militias’ operating in the region. The latter term is usually a Pentagon code term for Hezbollah – the Lebanese militant group invited into Syria by Damascus to help combat foreign-backed jihadist groups over the past decade.
Tuesday’s incident is the latest suspected attempted attack on the Al-Tanf garrison. Earlier this month, Syrian media reported that multiple blasts were heard inside the base in a separate incident. In recent months, the Pentagon has reported on multiple “deliberate and coordinated” efforts to attack the base using drones and rockets. A 20 October attack reportedly inflicted major damage to the facility, although no casualties were caused.
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The Al-Tanf garrison is situated in southern Syria near the Arab Republic’s border with Iraq and Jordan along the strategic M2 Baghdad-Damascus Highway. It has been occupied by US forces since 2016. Since that time, Syria and its allies have repeatedly demanded that Washington pull out of the illegal outpost, and accused Washington of using the facility to retrain ‘former’ terrorist fighters to continue their fight against the Damascus government.
The illegal US presence at Al-Tanf is complemented by the occupation of wide swathes of oil, gas and food-rich areas in the country’s northeast, to the east of the Euphrates River, where US troops operate alongside their Syrian Kurdish allies, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces. Syrian President Bashar Assad and other officials have repeatedly accused the United States of deliberately holding on to these areas to complicate the Middle Eastern nation’s rebuild from the war, and charged Washington with illegally smuggling oil and food out of the areas it occupies. The US government has denied the charges.
In this photo taken on Tuesday May 23, 2017, provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group, the Hammurabi's Justice News, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a U.S.-backed anti-government Syrian fighter form Maghaweer al-Thawra stands on a vehicle with heavy automatic machine gun, left, next of an American soldier who also stands on his armored vehicle, right, as they take their position at the Syrian-Iraqi crossing border point of Tanf, south Syria - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.08.2020
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* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.
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