US Presence in Syria’s al-Tanf is Aimed Against Iran

In this photo taken on Tuesday May 23, 2017, provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group, the Hammurabi's Justice News, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a U.S.-backed anti-government Syrian fighter form Maghaweer al-Thawra stands on a vehicle with heavy automatic machine gun, left, next of an American soldier who also stands on his armored vehicle, right, as they take their position at the Syrian-Iraqi crossing border point of Tanf, south SyriaSputnik-Middle East

Located on Syrian territory near the border with Jordan, the military base in al-Tanf is reportedly being employed by the United States to train militants belonging to the anti-government opposition, with Damascus branding the US presence in the area as illegal.

Despite the claims made by US officials that the country’s military base in Syria’s al-Tanf helps curb the activities of Daesh* terrorists, it appears that the base currently serves as an important element of Washington’s anti-Iranian agenda in the region.

As US Army Gen. Joseph Votel told NBC News, the al-Tanf garrison is a strategically important installation which helps Washington counter “the sway of Iran” in Syria.

“We don’t have a counter Iranian mission here. We have a defeat ISIS mission,” Votel claimed. “But I do recognize that our presence, our development of partners and relationships down here does have an indirect effect on some malign activities that Iran and their various proxies and surrogates would like to pursue down here.”

According to the media outlet, the US military use their outpost in Al Tanf to train militants belonging to Maghawir al Thawra – an armed Syrian opposition group which used to be a part of the so called Free Syrian Army.

While General Votel insisted that the primary goal US military presence in Al Tanf is to ensure that the surrounding area “does not support freedom of movement” for Daesh, he also claimed that it has “some kind of indirect effect” on Iran’s alleged activities in Syria.

Tehran however has repeatedly insisted that Iran has limited its assistance to Syria in the fight against Islamist extremists to the provision of military advisers, and that no regular Iranian forces are present on Syrian territory.

The US military currently occupies a 34-mile zone around its base in al-Tanf, where it has been training Syrian opposition forces since 2016.

The base has become the subject of criticism as Damascus and Moscow have expressed concerns that Washington was “spewing Daesh mobile groups who make inroads to launch subversive terrorist operations against Syrian troops and civilians.”

Damascus has repeatedly denounced the US military presence on Syrian soil as illegal, demanding that the American forces leave the country and withdraw from the al-Tanf base.