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Russia Is Depriving the US of Excuses to Keep Occupying Southern Syrian Desert

Russia has successfully negotiated the withdrawal of one of only two last remaining US-sponsored rebel groups in al-Tanf and is now in talks to relocate the 60,000 refugees in the nearby Rukban refugee camp -- to their pre-war homes, now largely held by the Syrian government.

This is bigger news than you would think. Aside from the refugee camp and the scores (or at most a hundred or two) remaining Syrian "rebels" (since they're salaried by a foreign power "mercenaries" might be more appropriate) the 55km area around the US base at al-Tanf is completely unpopulated.

Should the US occupation zone in the south lose the last of its actual Syrians, the US will have no excuse left to keep occupying the place -- albeit which isn't a guarantee of a withdrawal either.


A US-backed rebel group has reached an agreement with the Russian Reconciliation Center to leave the Tanf region for northern Syria.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Quraytayn Martyrs Brigade has reached an agreement with the Russian Reconciliation Center to leave the Tanf region for the northern countryside of the Aleppo Governorate.

The SOHR report said that the rebel group will be evacuated from the Tanf region alongside their family members that are present in the Rukban Refugee Camp.

The rebel group will also be allowed to keep their military vehicles and weapons, which is different from most factions that are evacuated.

The Quraytayn Martyrs Brigade and their family members will be evacuated through the Syrian government’s territories until they reach the areas of the Aleppo Governorate that are controlled by the Turkish-backed rebels.

With the departure of the Quraytayn Martyrs Brigade from the Tanf region, only one rebel group remains in this large desert area controlled by the US forces.

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Russia’s Foreign Ministry is closely working with the United States on evacuating refugees from the Syrian camp Rukban bordering Jordan to the territory controlled by the Damascus government, the ministry’s representative Nikolai Burtsev said on Thursday.

"The US side suggests settling the Rukban problem through evacuating the refugees to the territories controlled by the government of the Syrian Arab Republic. The details of a possible operation have not been discussed so far. We will continue closely working with the Americans to solve this issue," Burtsev told a meeting between the Russian and Syrian headquarters on returning the refugees.

According to the diplomat, the effort on settling the Rukban camp’s issue is carried out in two directions. The preparations continue for escorting the UN humanitarian convoy from the territory controlled by the Syrian government. Damascus has informed the Russian Embassy about its agreement to issue permission for the convoy.

Jordan believes that the camp’s issue will be finally solved when the Nasib border crossing opens on the Syrian border, ensuring the mass return of Syrian refugees. "The Jordanian side calls to start providing its residents with kinds of humanitarian assistance by the Syrian side," he said.

The Russian diplomat noted that Jordan’s offer envisages measures taken by the Russian and US military and also Damascus, including ensuring safe corridors for the exit of people, creating checkpoints for confirming their status and signing reconciliation agreements with the tribal leaders.

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