Tanf: The U.S. military base dedicated to regime change in Syria
The Tanf military base is a lonely, desert oasis roughly 10 miles inside Syria near the Jordan border, and about 100 miles south of Palmyra.
Officially Tanf is where we train anti-ISIS "moderate" rebels, but since two weeks ago, the entire region is surrounded by pro-government forces. Any rebel fighter at Tanf would have to travel through government-controlled areas to fight ISIS.
The base is in no danger from ISIS at all. So why did this recently happen?
The US military has moved its High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) from Jordan into southern Syria for the first time, positioning it near the US-Coalition training base at At Tanf, three US defense officials confirmed to CNN Tuesday.
HIMARS, a truck-mounted system which can fire missiles as far as 300 kilometers, represents a major boost to US combat power near At Tanf, a location that has come under the spotlight following a series of recent coalition strikes against pro-regime forces operating in the area.
..."We have increased our combat power in that area," US Col. Ryan Dillon told reporters at the Pentagon earlier this month.
"We have increased our presence and our footprint and prepared for any threat that is presented by the pro-regime forces," Dillon added.
Not only are we bringing advanced weaponry into Syria for the purpose of fighting pro-government forces, but we are "expanding our footprint".
Abu al-Atheer, military spokesman for the U.S.-backed Maghawir al-Thawra rebel group, told Reuters U.S. forces had spread from their initial location at Tanf to set up a second base at Zakf, around 60-70 km (40-50 miles) to the northeast.
...Abu al-Atheer said the U.S. special forces were now patrolling distances of up to 100 km from Tanf. He said more U.S. special forces were arriving at both the original base at Tanf and the new base at Zakf, and more weapons had been delivered to rebels.
"The (new) base was being studied for months but now it's an official base. It has been built and expanded and God willing will be in the next few days like the Tanf base," he told Reuters.
This looks like a creeping invasion to me.
US troops were never invited into Syria by the government in the first place and aren’t authorized to hold that base. We unilaterally declared a 34-mile radius surrounding the base a “deconfliction zone,” using this as the pretext for launching three separate airstrikes against militias aligned with the Damascus government.
Our official purpose there is to train anti-ISIS fighters, but the main group, Maghawir al-Thawra, is both anti-ISIS AND anti-regime. So you can see why the Assad government and his allies aren't very keen on this development.
What is remarkable is the near total lack of discussion and justification for these developments, as opposed to the much-ballyhooed U.S. air strike on the al-Shayrat airfield back in April.
Yet, even as Washington potentially stumbles into war, there has been little public explanation from the highest levels of government, scant media coverage, and virtually no congressional oversight. This is no way to handle what could potentially mutate into a vastly expanded American military intervention in the Middle East.
...These are all, of course, serious policy questions that demand serious deliberation. But it’s not clear that’s happening. Instead, the Trump administration appears to be blindly stumbling into this conflict with no public discussion of the consequences. All three military engagements have resulted from decisions made by U.S. commanders in-theater to protect the 150 U.S. troops when the Assad-regime and Iran-backed forces got too close. U.S. forces on the ground need to have the authority necessary to defend themselves. But at this point the lack of a clear policy is a major problem.
Trump is clearly trying to pick a fight with Iran, based on his rhetoric and the fact that all three military strikes were against Iranian-backed forces.
It's amazing how this situation can continue to spiral out of control towards an alarming new war, one much worse than the Iraq invasion, and everyone pretends it doesn't exist.