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US strategy failed in southeastern Syria

The infamous At Tanf garrison is largely useless now.

Syrian military and political expert Hamza Abbas wrote an article for “Russkaya Vesna” outlet, titled “The Failure of the US in Syria: Pentagon abandons the militants in the southern regions of the country.”

According to the article, there are 500 US special operation units and trainers based at At Tanf. Several militant groups supported by the US are also based in the region that previously were a part of a so-called New Syrian Army, formed by the US in 2015. Thanks to their help and their links with the groups in Eastern Qalamoun and Eastern Ghouta, the US managed to put pressure on Damascus from the north-east. Adding to that, a few thousand US-supported militants tried to stop ISIS from increasing their presence in Central and West Syria, as foreign powers designated these territories for Al-Qaeda and the Al-Nusra Front.

The article then outlines how despite Pentagon’s plans, the Syrian Arab Army managed to free Deir ez-Zor by itself, which provoked the US-affiliated militants to start fighting the Syrian Army instead of terrorists in order to stay in control over the roads in the Syrian desert.

The militants lost, and had to retreat to At Tanf under the cover of the US air forces. Despite the US claiming it no longer supported the militant groups, the US protected them and let them stay at the Rukban camp among the refugees.

The US presence of 500 people is not enough, the Pentagon claims, to control the situation at the Rukban camp. It is, interestingly enough, deemed sufficient to guarantee the safety of the humanitarian convoys arriving at the Rukban camp and control the distribution of their cargo in the camp. It’s clear that they wouldn’t be capable of doing that, if they really couldn’t “control the situation” at the camp.

The Trump Administration sees no point in spending money on militants and refugees in At Tanf. The flow of US supplies and money to the south Syrian militants will be completely cut off by the end of the year. The Mahavir As-Saura group, the only group the US still supports officially, has been downsized significantly, according to local sources. The “fired” militants dislocated to the Rukban camp, just like many members of other groups.

The situation, the article claims, cannot remain unchanged, as the coming winter and bad humanitarian state of the camp will be a recipe for disaster. The Jordan border is still closed. Many At Tanf militants try crossing the border and get killed by the Jordan border security that claim that the militants were ISIS members.

The US covertly transfer the militants it has further plans for. The author stipulates that the US waits for At Tanf militants to engage the Syrian Army, once the US Air Forces stop protecting them, which would allow western media to demonize the Syrian regime once again.

This is not a viable solution. The Rukban camp militants should heed the Russian Reconciliation Center and begin negotiating with the Syrian government. They may receive amnesty and return with their families to their homes. Some may leave the country with Russia’s help, as some militants had already done in different regions. Only open dialogue may save the At Tanf militants from death. Any delay may prove fatal, as winter is coming, and the Americans are leaving.

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