(ANTIMEDIA) — Hundreds of Iranian-backed militiamen loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad are amassing near a U.S. training base located near the country’s border with Iraq, according to the U.S. Defense Department. As Bloomberg reported, “If Trump wants to fight Iran, he’ll soon get the chance in Syria.”
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The U.S. is growing increasingly concerned with these militias and has asked some of them to leave the area, according to ABC. The U.S. warned the various groups that they are inside and around a “deconfliction zone” established by the U.S. and Russia. Apparently, now the U.S. wants to respect these deconfliction zones despite dismissing them previously.
The Pentagon says a small pro-Assad force remains inside the zone while a larger force is patrolling the zone’s perimeter. The Pentagon deems the groups of militias “unacceptable and threatening” to coalition forces, and a Pentagon spokesperson stated that the U.S. is “prepared to defend ourselves if pro-regime forces refuse to vacate the deconfliction zone.”
Further, approximately a week ago, U.S. aircraft dropped a series of leaflets around the area warning these troops to avoid the deconfliction zone.
It is an interesting paradigm in which the invading force presumes to have the right to tell other forces to leave an area where many of the soldiers may, in fact, be Syrian citizens, but that is a topic for a separate debate.
The U.S. military has been increasing its combat power at the remote training facility near the Tanf border crossing in Syria in preparation for this showdown, according to the Military Times.
As Anti-Media has previously reported, these pro-regime troops are attempting to open up the border crossing and take full control of the area so they can open up direct routes to Iran and Iraq on each side.
“What’s left of Islamic State territory is the key part of Iran’s plan to connect Iran to Lebanon,’’ said Firas Abi-Ali, senior Middle East analyst at IHS Country Risk in London, Bloomberg reported.
Fortunately, analysts fearing the worst may not necessarily get the full-blown regional conflict they are expecting. According to the Military Times:
“The Iranian-backed militias don’t have the military capability to go toe-to-toe with U.S. forces at Tanf, however, the goal for Assad and his Iranian proxies may be to simply harass the facility and surround it, making the base useless for U.S. goals.”
The militias ignored previous warnings from the U.S. and had their convoy subsequently struck as a result. Not to mention, these troops have tanks, artillery, and modified pickup trucks with mounted heavy weapons, and they are reportedly backed by Russian air power.
“There’s not much the U.S. can do about Iran in Syria,” said Cliff Kupchan, chairman of Eurasia Group, a New York-based risk consultancy organization, according to Bloomberg. “They’re just not going to walk…Iran is closer, and cares more.”