Attack On Al-Tanf Base By Resistance Axis Forces– A Turning Point In Axis Efforts To Expel U.S. Troops From Syria

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October 21, 2021

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

On October 20, 2021, an attack was carried out against the U.S. military base in Al-Tanf, on the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi border, which marks an escalation in operations against the U.S. forces in Syria. A statement issued by the Pentagon said that it was "a deliberate and coordinated attack" using "both unmanned aircraft and indirect fire," but that no U.S. troops were killed or injured. The statement added that the U.S. maintained "the inherent right to self-defense" and would respond at a time and place of its choosing.[1]

Several hours after the attack, the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, identified with Hizbullah, reported that "the Allies of Syria Operations Room" was behind it, and that it was a response to  an October 13 attack on positions of the Iran-backed forces in Palmyra.[2] However, the Palmyra attack was likely just an excuse for Iran and its affiliated militias to implement a plan already in place for increasing operations against the U.S. forces in Syria, especially against the Al-Tanf base, which prevents Iran from widening its corridor to Lebanon through Iraq and Syria.

Proof of this can be found in the statement issued by the Allies of Syria Operations Room one day after the Palmyra attack, which claimed that the attack had been carried out "through Jordan's airspace in the Al-Tanf area."[3]  Further proof is found in the October 21 Al-Akhbar report, which states that the Al-Tanf attack was part of a "general bid" by the resistance axis, led by Iran, to shift the balance of deterrence vis-à-vis the U.S. in Syria. The report adds that, in discussions over the past weeks, namely before the Palmyra attack, between the heads of the resistance axis in Syria, Iran and Beirut, it was decided that axis forces in Syria would be reinforced.   

In the last two years, MEMRI  has posted many reports indicating the intention of the resistance axis to carry out attacks against the U.S. forces in Syria, including in Al-Tanf, with the aim of expelling them from the country. So far, the axis threatened to employ "popular resistance." Indeed, in May-June this year there were six mortar and rocket attacks on bases of the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in northeastern Syria. Dailies close to the Syrian regime and Hizbullah presented these operations as a new phase in the popular resistance aimed at driving the Americans from Syria, and threatened to escalate them.[4]  In October 2020, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said that "popular resistance" was the only way to force the Americans to leave.[5] About one month earlier, a group called "the Popular Resistance of the Eastern Region–East of the Euphrates" posted an animated video on its Facebook page in which it threatened the base in Al-Tanf.[6]

 

 

[1] Washingtonpost.com, October 20, 2021.

[2] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), October 21, 2021.

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