Saturday, June 10, 2017

Al-Tanf Standoff: US Coalition Risks 'Open Confrontation With Syria, Iran'

On June 8, a United States-led coalition attacked a motorcade of pro-Damascus allied forces near the town of al-Tanf in southern Syria, destroying a tank and several artillery systems. This was the third time coalition strikes have occurred in the area.

On May 18, the US-led coalition struck pro-Assad fighters near al-Tanf in the area of an established de-confliction zone with Russia. The strikes occurred near al-Tanf, where US' and British special operations forces have been training Syrian rebel fighters near the border with Iraq and Jordan. The second similar incident took place near al-Tanf on June 6.
The US State Department said that the strike was carried out as self-defense and was not indicative of an escalation.

"Nevertheless, the Pentagon’s strikes on Syrian forces have recently been regular, from the Shairat air base in April to al-Tanf in May and June. It does not seem to be self-defense," Russian political commentator Alexander Khrolenko wrote in an op-ed for Sputnik.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry called the attack a crime committed by the "illegitimate US-led international coalition." Damascus stressed that for three years the US and its allies have been carrying out an anti-Daesh operation without authorization from the Syrian government.

An operational headquarters of the allied forces of the Syrian government army, which includes the forces of Lebanon's Hezbollah as well as Iran, threatened the US-led coalition with a retaliatory strike following the attacks on Damascus positions.

Moscow slammed the coalition attack as a violation of international law. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the move was an act of aggression, undermining Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.......

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