Additional humiliation for the US after it was cut off from making more gains in southern Syria last Friday
Last Friday the Syrian army and allied militias broke through to the Syrian-Iraqi border in southern Syria. Path of advance took it just to the east of the US-declared kill zone for pro-government forces which the Pentagon declared around its base at al-Tanf. By setting themselves to the east of Americans the Syrians have now probably cut off the US military and proxy forces from taking over any more of southern Syria.
The new Syrian army base on the Iraqi border lies just 20 kilometers from the second US-rebel base in southern Syria which was set up just earlier this month.
This means I was probably wrong when I suggested last week that the US had extended its kill zone for government troops. It seems the second US-rebel outpost at al-Zaqaf came without the sort of 55 kilometer exclusion zone that was proclaimed around al-Tanf. (Either that or the Americans at the last moment balked from enforcing the kill zone extension.)
In any case, this means that Americans on three separate occasions "defensively" bombed Syrian forces when they were still some 40 kilometers away from al-Tanf but are now forced to quietly live with a fully-fledged Syrian army base just 20 kilometers from their Zaqaf garrison.
To make matters worse for Pentagon's pride the Syrian base has received a high profile guest; it has been visited by General Soleimani of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps:
General Soleimani is probably among the top three most hated people in the Pentagon. He commands Iran's Quds Force -- a division of the Revolutionary Guards responsible for operations abroad. He is the architect of the Iranian military intervention in Syria and the godfather of Syria's NDF (National Defense Force) and Iraq's PMU (Popular Mobilization Units) militias. He also helped convince the Russians to enter Syria militarily themselves.
By helping to organize and train and supply the NDF and PMU militias Iran has done an enormous service to the fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq. Indeed in Iraq the PMUs and US forces are actually directly allied (though they don't necessarily like each other much), but Pentagon brass seems stuck on irrational hatred of Iran based on some ancient history from 1980.
In any case, this was the second time in two weeks now that General Soleimani made an appearance on the Syrian-Iraqi border. On May 29th he could be seen in northern Iraq, visiting the PMU militias who had just cut through ISIS to break through to the Syrian border in that sector:
The Pentagon insist on viewing the battle for control of the Syrian-Iraqi border, as not so much a fight between Syria/Iraq and ISIS, as a race between the US and Iran. If so, then so far Iran is winning hands down.