US – Iran: Collision in Syria not far from the Ukrainian war

Written by – Elijah J. Magnier:

For the first time since the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011 and the presence of US forces and their North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies in northeastern Syria, the US and Iran have exchanged bombings and attacks on Syrian territory for two consecutive days. Both Iran and the US sent clear and explicit mutual warnings. What is the reason for the sudden new aggressive attitude, escalation and increased Iranian drone attacks on US forces in the Al-Omar and Conico oil and gas fields and the Khirbit al-Jeer military base near Al-Ya’roubia? What is the connection between the war in Ukraine and what is happening in Syria?

The first attack, with 60 missiles and suicide drones, hit the US occupation forces, killing one US contractor and wounding five US soldiers and one contractor. The US retaliated by hitting several sites close to Deir-ezzour airport and Albu Kamal, killing seven militants of the Syrian resistance groups and wounding seven others. The following day, the Iranian-backed local resistance launched four suicide drones and dozens of missiles on the US positions, determined to maintain deterrence. The US retaliated again, hitting two more positions in Syria in Harabet and al-Mayadeen in northeast Syria, outside the US occupation area and close to the Iraqi borders. The US claim to be in the country under the 2001-2002 terrorism law but is bombing Syrian auxiliary groups present in the country to defend it at the request of the local authorities.

The attack shows that the Syrian resistance, in agreement with the Syrian government, is electronically prepared and well-equipped with drones, precision missiles, and rockets. The open claim of responsibility of the resistance group shows how ready it is for a broader confrontation with the US forces.

The Iranian advisory forces and several thousand of their various allies are present in Syria at the request of the Damascus government. The presence of these forces is due to the Turkish and US occupation forces’ occupation of north-western and north-eastern Syria, in addition to the presence of thousands of jihadists and Turkish-backed militias in the provinces and rural areas of Idlib and Afrin. The occupied Syrian territory accounts for about 30 per cent of the total area outside the control of the Syrian Arab Army forces. In addition, the US maintains another military base at the Al-Tanf border crossing with Iraq, where American forces prohibit the approach of any troops within a 50-square-kilometre perimeter in the Syrian desert. This is where ISIS mainly operates, and US control prevents the Syrian army and its allies from reaching the remnants of the terrorist group in the US-occupied area.

The Syrian army auxiliaries and the local resistance groups operate on the front line together with the US and Turkish occupation forces. The resistance groups have controlled the Al-Bu Kamal crossing in northeastern Syria to secure the link between Syria and Iraq, where logistical support for Syria and its Iranian allies continues to flow into the country. The lack of US control over this crossing has angered Israel, which uses US air bases in Syria in its combat manoeuvres to attack targets inside Syria. Trucks carrying Iranian-backed supplies and various materials needed by Syria and its allies – particularly in the aftermath of the recent devastating earthquake – pass through Albu Kamal on a daily basis. The Damascus government has been under severe US and European sanctions since 2020 under the “Caesar Act”, and the Syrian people need all the help they can get, which Iran and Iraq mainly provide because of the severe economic crisis the country is suffering from.

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