On April 6, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched a combing operation around the southeastern area of al-Tanf, where the United States maintains a large garrison, according to Syrian pro-government sources.
The aim of the operation is reportedly to identify and neutralize sabotage and reconnaissance cells, which were trained by the U.S.-led coalition at al-Tanf.
Around 200 U.S. troops are usually deployed at al-Tanf garrison, side by side with some more than 300 militants from a proxy group known as the Syrian Free Army. The group has been recruiting and training more militants with direct support from the coalition.
The U.S.-led coalition maintains a 55-kilometer no-fly zone around al-Tanf garrison. However, Russian fighter jets fly over the garrison on a regular basis.
Russian fighter jets armed with air-to-air missiles and bombs flew over al-Tanf at least 25 times during March, according to recent remarks by Lieutenant General Alexus Grynkewich, combined forces air component commander for U.S. Central Command.
U.S. proxies in al-Tanf were accused of launching attacks against government forces, civilians and vital infrastructure facilities in southern, central and eastern Syria on several occasions over the last few years. Retaliatory strikes hit the garrison and nearby desert areas on more than one occasion.
During a recent visit to Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned that the coalition has turned the garrison into a bastion for terrorists.
ISIS terrorists are active near al-Tanf. They reportedly use the U.S. no-fly zone as a safe haven and buy weapons from the coalition’s proxies.
The SAA’s combing operation around the garrison will likely improve security in the important area for the short term. However, the situation in the area will not fully stabilize until the U.S. withdraws all of its troops and abandons its proxies there.