The US-led coalition inside Syria says that it has destroyed pro-government forces that entered the deconfliction zone established by the United States and Russia around a coalition training facility. The coalition last struck a pro-government convoy in the area on May 18.
“The Coalition destroyed additional pro-Syrian regime forces that advanced inside the well-established deconfliction zone in southern Syria,” said a statement from the US Central Command.
“The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime or pro-regime forces but remains ready to defend themselves if pro-regime forces refuse to vacate the deconfliction zone.”
'Threat to US partner forces': US-led coalition airstrike targets pro-govt convoy in Syria https://t.co/pJ5ohHg5cg— RT (@RT_com) May 19, 2017
The deconfliction zone, with a radius of about 55 km, was established around the town of At Tanf, where the US has set up base to train special forces for the final assault on the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa.
On Tuesday, Russia, once again, criticized the strike, and called for an extraordinary UN Security Council meeting.
"The strike is a step by the US towards engaging in an open conflict in Syria, and an act of aggression," said a member of the defense and security council of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, Frants Klintsevich.
The American attack occurred on the same day US-backed militias launched an all-out assault on Raqqa which has served as the Islamic State’s unofficial “capital” since its capture in 2014. Raqqa is located 300 km to the north of At Tanf.
Experts RT spoke to believe that in choosing to exercise pre-emptive force the US is not just defending its troops, but pursuing broader strategic goals.
At Tanf is a potential flashpoint, and the reason the Americans have reacted so strongly, with a bombing, is because they believe they can make sure that the flashpoint doesn’t actually happen, that they can stifle it,” journalist Martin Jay said in an interview with RT from Beirut.
In readiness for a prospective showdown for control of southeast Syria, US Special Forces have set up a forward base at Al-Zukf in the Syrian Desert...The location is 70km northwest of the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border triangle and the Al Tanf crossing, which is controlled by US, Western allied and Jordanian special forces, together with a US-trained Syrian rebel unit, which calls itself the Revolutionary Commando.
American sources say the Al Zukf base was set up for two objectives: One is to block the path of the Syrian army-Hizballah armored column, which has been advancing for the past fortnight from Al-Suweida in southeastern Syria toward the Al-Tanf crossing.
The other US objective is to capture the key town of Abu Kamal, a distance of 200km northwest of Al-Tanf, from Islamic State control.
However, the overriding goal of the US advance base is to thwart the Syrian, Hizballah and other pro-Iranian forces from gaining control of 300km of the Syrian-Iraqi border and so being able to open up Tehran’s coveted direct land bridge to the Mediterranean through Iraq.
The US force is not alone in its bid for control of this strategic area. It is getting pretty crowded.
The Syria Army’s 4th armored division rolled this week into the southern Syrian town of Daraa close to the Jordanian border and around 330km west of the new Al-Zukf base. The division moved in with high-grade Russian-made T-90 tanks complete with its high command, headed by Bashar Assad’s younger brother, Gen. Maher al-Assad. The general and staff officers were sighted carrying out inspections of Daraa’s terrain in advance of the resumption of hostilities. Parts of this potential battlefield are no more than 1,000 meters from the Jordanian border.
Our intelligence sources also reported that, this week, further north, al-Qods chief, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Syrian and Iraqi fronts, crossed into Syria from Iraq along with his operations staff. They joined the Palmyra-based command and control of the Syrian force, which is heading out of the town in two columns for two towns - Deir ez-Zor, which is surrounded by Islamic State forces, and Abu Kamal, which is under ISIS control. Elements of Russian elite forces and Hizballah are fighting along with the Syrian troops.
The ingathering of major military forces in this part of Syria is ominous: The deployment of a US forward base in the Syrian Desert, and the arrival of the most senior Iranian and Syrian commanders at the head of elite units augur the approach of a major showdown for control of southeastern Syria and its strategic multiple border assets.
No country on earth would survive should the world’s most powerful nuclear states unleash their atomic weapons, Vladimir Putin has said. His remarks form part of a series of interviews with American film director Oliver Stone.
The question of whether the human race would survive a potential global nuclear war has tormented the minds of generations, and indeed Stone, who wondered if the Russian president believes the US might emerge victorious if such a conflict were to break out.
“In a hot war is the US dominant?” the American director asked the Russian president.
“I don’t think anyone would survive such a conflict,” Putin replied in a short Showtime teaser, a precursor to a documentary titled 'The Putin Interviews' that will be aired next week.
Putin then proves he has the pulse on Russia’s military strategy and tactics. As part of the preview, the clip shows Stone and Putin in the situation room where the Russian leader demonstrated that his on top of developments playing out in the Syrian military theater.
“Pilot says he is going to make another attempt,” Putin tells the US director while showing him a live feed from a military jet on a smartphone.
Stone then asks if there’s “any hope of change” in US-Russian relations, which both countries have acknowledged are at the lowest point since the Cold War.
“There is always hope. Until they are ready to bring us to the cemetery and bury us,” Putin replied.
“Once a country becomes a NATO member, it is hard to resist the pressures of the US. And all of a sudden any weapons system can be placed in this country. An anti-ballistic missile system, new military bases and if need be, new offensive systems,” Putin explained.
Russia, Putin says, is forced to take countermeasures over the ever-increasing NATO threat and armed military build-up on Russia’s borders.
“We have to aim our missile systems at facilities that are threatening us. The situation becomes more tense,” Putin said.
Islamic State massacred more than 160 civilians as they attempted to flee the fighting in western Mosul, the UN has said.
The ruthlessness and brutality of IS is well known but the latest pictures illustrate to everyone their willingness to kill anyone who disagrees with them or refuses to follow their orders.
Drone footage filmed by Iraqi forces shows dozens upon dozens of bodies of men, women and children gunned down as they tried to make their escape at the start of the month.
IS fighters had told the tens of thousands of people still trapped inside the city that they should not try to leave.
The terror group has a history of using the civilian population as human shields.
But with the battle for the city now entering its most brutal phase, many are doing their best to escape anyway they can.
The US Air Force “hasn’t changed” its operations out of its Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, despite multiple Persian Gulf states cutting diplomatic ties with Doha and US President Donald Trump signaling that actions isolating Qatar could be “the beginning of the end of the horror of terrorism.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
At the same time, however, the US is "grateful to the Qataris" for their "enduring commitment to regional security," Central Command Capt. Kathleen Atanasoff told Stars and Stripes on Tuesday. Saudi Arabia’s new land blockade may threaten civilians reliant on food imports, but US military forces at the air base unsurprisingly don’t count on ground transports for many supplies. As such, they aren’t likely to be affected by the rift, Central Command said.
Clearly wrong-footed by the president’s Twitter outburst, Dana Smith, US ambassador to Qatar, noted that it was a "good time" to reaffirm that the "US supports #Qatar’s efforts in combatting terrorism financing & appreciates its role in coalition against [Daesh]."
The decision from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya’s eastern-based government to isolate Qatar diplomatically won’t have any bearing on how the Pentagon proceeds to use its military base outside of Doha, USAF Secretary Heather Wilson said on Monday in Washington.