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Trump creates new base in Syria and ships ISIS to Iraq

Steven Sahiounie, journalist and political commentator

The US military has created a new base at Deir Ez Zor, in eastern Syria, after bringing in military supplies, the ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ (SOHR) reported on Friday. Massive reinforcements were observed in the al-Jazat area, just west of the oil-rich area of Deir Ez Zor.  Reports indicated some 300 trucks entered eastern Syria from western Iraq.

300 US military shipments reached al-Jazrat over the past few days, according to ‘SOHR’, based in the UK.  They further reported the US troops are expanding their base at the al-Omar oil field, to the east of Deir Ez Zor, where President Trump ordered his troops to take possession of the Syrian oil and prevent it from being used by Syria.  The US has established numerous illegal military bases in Syria, scattered through the northeast, the Iraqi border, and at the border triangle of Iraq, Syria, and Jordan to the south.

The Syrian government has demanded that all US troops must leave Syria, as they are occupation forces and illegal under international law. However, the Trump administration is dead-set on keeping the Syrian oil wells and preventing the rebuilding of Syria, which has endured 9 years of a US-NATO planned attack for ‘regime-change’, at which they failed.

The Pentagon reported that the US military killed 132 civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Somalia during operations in 2019. However, watchdog groups accuse the US at under-reporting the true tally by hundreds. Airwars reported that the US-led coalition in Syria and Iraq killed from 416 to 1,030 civilians during the first six months of 2019.  The US began a series of never-ending wars after Sept. 11. 2001, which now spans two continents, and with no ending in sight.

US base at TANF 

The US base at Tanf is located at the triangle where Jordan, Syria, and Iraq meet.  The al-Walid border crossing on the M2 highway is also there, providing a land link between Beirut, Damascus, and Baghdad.  The US established the illegal base in 2016 and created a mercenary army called Maghawir al-Thawra (MAT).  The MAT has been deserting, and their numbers now have dwindled to just about 300 mercenaries. Today, they are not fighting ISIS, but are the war-lords ruling over the 12,000 refugees living at the nearby Rukban camp. MAT has been accused by former camp residents of charging refugees for food and medicines, which had been donated freely by international aid groups. Under international law, the Rukban camp’s residents are an American responsibility; however, the US military allows the mercenaries to administer the camp, and turn a blind eye to crimes against the suffering refugees. 

Tanf has no oil, and the only reason the US troops and mercenaries are there is to prevent transportation along the M2 highway and to assure that the al-Walid crossing is not open to transportation from Iraq to Syria, which prevents the economic recovery of Syria.

The Iraqi border

Iraqi army and their Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) have kept the Qaim-Bukamal border crossing open, which is the only Iraqi-Syrian crossing officially operated by both governments. The governments of Baghdad and Damascus share the strategic objective of establishing sovereign control over their borders, which brings the two governments into a partnership.  Military experts among the partners have said the time is coming which will see the full Iraqi-Syrian border secure and without the threat of US occupation forces, who will become increasingly isolated and insignificant. 

Russian moves in Syria

The Russian military recently expanded its presence in Qamishli in northeastern Syria. Reinforcements arrived at the Qamishli airport bringing with them heavy equipment, tanks, and armored vehicles, which coincides with the recent buildup of the US troops at al-Jazrat.

US moves ISIS to Iraq

The US has been accused of moving ISIS terrorists from Syria into Iraq after the 5,000 US forces were asked to leave by the Iraqi parliament. 

Mohammed Mahdi al-Bayati, a leader of the Badr Organization in Iraq said: “Eyewitnesses living along the border with Syria have informed security officials that American forces are conducting extensive airborne transfers of Daesh terrorists from Syria to Iraq.” In January, Iraqi security commentator Karim al-Khikani, said that ISIS terrorists had been transported into Iraq.

The terrorists were entering Iraq from the Syrian border of the former ‘Rojava’ Kurdish area in the northeast.  The Kurds had formerly been US partners in the fight against ISIS, and had captured thousands of ISIS terrorists and held them in prisons there.  Trump ordered the US troops out of Syria, and it was thought the ISIS prisons would be unmanageable, once the US funding to the Kurds was cut. The US military has found a new use for the ISIS prisoners.  By allowing the ISIS terrorists to attack in Iraq, the US troop presence can be justified to stop ISIS.  Military strategists call for using ‘assets on hand’, and ISIS is just the type of asset the US military can use in Syria and Iraq, to justify the US occupation and presence long after they have been ordered to leave. 

Trump has said before, that he wants the US troops in Iraq to stay indefinitely, as a counter to Iran. The US has increased its forces in Iraq and sent more military equipment. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi told US ambassador Matthew Tueller on Saturday, that the country would not be turned into an arena for settling scores and launching attacks on its neighbors. Trump recently said the US was “making a lot of moves in the Middle East and elsewhere.” 

The Syrian end-game

The US under Obama began the attack on Syria in 2011, using terrorists following Radical Islam, which is a political ideology, and neither a religion nor a sect. Trump inherited the war in Syria but cut off the CIA’s operation there in 2017.  In 2016 campaign promises, Trump said he would bring home the US troops from Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East; however, his promises went unfulfilled, as he sent an occupation force to Syria and expanded the US presence there to include looting the Syrian oil.  Trump and his team have an incoherent military footprint in Syria and Iraq. With a seemingly ‘blind leading the blind’ foreign policy in Syria, the chances for miscommunication could further escalate tensions among the various players on the ground: the US, Russia, Turkey, Iran, and Syria. 

Steven Sahiounie is an award-winning journalist