U.S. forces at the al-Tanf base in southern Syria conducted military exercises with the opposition faction Maghawir al-Thawra, using the American HIMARS missile system. This development comes amid talk of Russian-American tension after the headquarters of the Washington-backed faction were recently exposed to Russian bombing.
Maghawir al-Thawra said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that the exercises were aimed at “demonstrating the skills of soldiers and their ability to defend the people of the area against any attack.” However, the faction did not set an exact date for the exercises and merely said that they “took place recently”.
The Maghawir’s position in Tanf, located in the 55th region of the Syria-Iraq-Jordan border triangle, was bombed by Russian warplanes in mid-June. Moscow said that the reason for the targeting was an attack carried out by the faction against the Syrian regime forces in the area.
Maghawir al-Thawra receives ongoing military exercises by U.S. forces, posting pictures and videos on their Twitter account periodically. This is the first time the faction has indicated that it has obtained these missiles.
General Michael Eric Corella, who headed the U.S. Central Command, met with dozens of special operations forces and foreign trainees stationed at the sprawling Tanf base in eastern Syria, days after the Russian raid.
“They’re going to push for some red lines to be redrawn,” Corella said. He added that “the last thing Washington wants to do right now is starting a conflict with Russia.”
However, he stressed that his country’s forces “will defend themselves and will not hesitate to respond”.
Corella also attributed Moscow’s growing pride in Syria to Colonel Alexander Chaiko, who returned to the Middle East after a period when he stopped leading Russian forces in Ukraine.
“We don’t know if he was an unruly man trying to re-establish and impose himself?”
HIMARS missiles are a high-motion, light and agile rocket-propelled grenade system mounted on vehicles or on the ground, with a range of 90 kilometers.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.