US Extends Its Occupation Zone in Southern Syria

Pentagon sets up another US base in southern Syria gobbling up yet more Syrian territory for its "deconfliction" zones

Mon, Jun 5, 2017 | 3937 Comments

I wrote Friday:

The obvious play for the Russian-backed Syrians is to neutralize Americans at al-Tanf by giving their base a 55 kilometer-wide berth and punch through to the Iraqi border further east. Such a maneuver would end US dreams of al-Tanf as a staging point for a push into the Euphrates valley and make it into an irrelevant, isolated outpost in the desert.

But the question is: is the Pentagon capable of resigning itself to its fate? Is it capable of sitting idly by, doing nothing, as its forces in southern Syria are made irrelevant, or will it escalate (yet again) before that happens?

It seems we now have our answer. The Pentagon has escalated again. 

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Pentagon-sponsored rebels of Maghawir al-Thawra (Commandos of the Revolution) have reported that they have set up a second outpost in Syria with the Americans.

So, just as the US demonstrated how destabilizing and dangerous its base in souther Syria is, it has gone and added another one.

Let's recount:

I suggested the one way this could still be resolved peacefully was if the Syrians let the Americans at al-Tanf be and simply took the desert to their east. This wouldn't end US presence in southern Syria but it would make it largely irrelevant. 

I also said this was only really possible if US stood by as this happened, and did not seek a way to thwart the Syrians and escalate the situation yet again.

Well, that is exactly what the Pentagon opted for. It has set up another outpost, 70 kilometers to the east of al-Tanf, around which it will doubtlessly enforce another 55 kilometer exclusion zone. Such a US expansion eastwards makes it unlikely the Syrians can outflank and cut off the Americans into irrelevancy any time soon.

Also should the Syrians make the attempt, the US can always spam another desert garrison still further east, eventually gobbling up the entire Syrian-Iraqi border.

Imagine a reverse scenario where Syria was spamming Syrian military bases in New Mexico and Arizona and proclaiming 55-kilometer exclusion zones around them -- thus gradually gobbling up the US-Mexican border for itself.

Why exactly should the US control Syria's border with Iraq? The Pentagon will claim it is rather Syrian rebels who control it, but the very name they have chosen for themselves (Commandos of the Revolution) reveals just how few in number they are. Unlike the Kurdish-led SDF, these "commandos" would be a non-entity without their paymaster's presence.

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