The US And Its Allies Appear Poised For Battle Against Pro-Syrian Regime Forces

Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Brandon Raile

Syrian militias fighting in support of the Bashar al-Assad regime are reportedly amassing near a small base manned by coalition forces in southeast Syria, raising concerns of a looming confrontation between ground forces technically not at war with each other, according to Military Times.

The news seems to signal that tensions between the coalition and the Assad regime are escalating in southeast Syria, where U.S. bombs struck a convoy of pro-government militants on May 18.   

Over the weekend, U.S. aircraft dropped leaflets warning pro-regime militants to stay out of the deconfliction zone around the base, which is located at the Tanf border crossing between Syria and Iraq. The garrison is used by U.S. and British special forces to train two Syrian opposition groups for the fight against ISIS.

U.S. Central Command officials told Military Times that hundreds of pro-regime militants have amassed in the vicinity of the deconfliction zone — which is 55-kilometers in radius — posing a “direct threat” to coalition forces at Tanf.  

“These patrols are and the continued armed and hostile presence of pro-regime forces inside the deconfliction zone are unacceptable and threatening to coalition forces,” CENTCOM told Military Times. “Coalition forces are prepared to defend themselves if pro-regime forces refuse to vacate the deconfliction zone.”

Coalition forces stationed at Tanf have been tested before. On May 18, U.S. airstrikes struck a convoy of pro-regime militants approaching Tanf, resulting in the destruction of a a tank and bulldozer. The Pentagon believes the bulldozer was being used to construct a firebase on the edge of the deconfliction zone, Military Times reports.

And in April, ISIS militants launched a complex assault on the base using a vehicle-borne IED and between 20-30 fighters, who were ultimately repelled after an intense battle.

According to Military Times, both  opposition groups receiving  coalition training at Tanf have been involved in anti-regime operations in the past. While the U.S. has not officially declared war on the Syrian regime, two U.S. Navy warships, the USS Ross and USS Porter, fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Al Shayrat Airfield, a regime base near the western city of Homs, in early April, marking the first time the U.S. targeted Syrian government forces.  

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Syrian rebels say they are receiving more arms from the U.S. and its allies to help fend off the militants — a claim that has not yet been confirmed by the Pentagon. The militants are backed by Iran, which, according to Reuters, is determined to open a supply corridor between Iraq and Syria that runs directly through the area.

The dropping of the leaflets coincided with the arrival of members of a Shiite militia called Katib Imam Ali from Iraq, which has links to Iran. The group positioned a “large number of forces to include tanks and technicals — modified pickup trucks with mounted heavy machine guns — just outside the 55-kilometer zone,” Military Times reports .  

Syria’s bloody civil war  is approaching a critical juncture as U.S.-backed forces prepare to launch a major assault on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, located in the north of the country. On May 30, the U.S. began arming Syrian Kurdish fighters for the first time in anticipation of the battle.

What will happen to the U.S.-backed Syrian groups trained and armed for the fight against ISIS after that phase of the war is over is a major point of concern for both the Syrian regime and Iran, and the arrival of more pro-Assad forces in southeast Syria indicates that a fight for territory may be on the horizon.  

“The Americans will not be allowed to control the border,” Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of a pro-Assad Iraqi militia that recently moved into the area, said in an interview with Lebanese news station al-Mayadeen TV on May 30.

The first grenade core was accidentally discovered on Nov. 28, 2018, by Virginia Department of Historic Resources staff examining relics recovered from the Betsy, a British ship scuttled during the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. The grenade's iron jacket had dissolved, but its core of black powder remained potent. Within a month or so, more than two dozen were found. (Virginia Department of Historic Resources via The Virginian-Pilot)

In an uh-oh episode of historic proportions, hand grenades from the last major battle of the Revolutionary War recently and repeatedly scrambled bomb squads in Virginia's capital city.

Wait – they had hand grenades in the Revolutionary War? Indeed. Hollow iron balls, filled with black powder, outfitted with a fuse, then lit and thrown.

And more than two dozen have been sitting in cardboard boxes at the Department of Historic Resources, undetected for 30 years.

Read More Show Less
(From left to right) Chris Osman, Chris McKinley, Kent Kroeker, and Talon Burton

At least four American veterans were among a group of eight men arrested by police in Haiti earlier this week for driving without license plates and possessing an arsenal of weaponry and tactical gear.

Police in Port-au-Prince arrested five Americans, two Serbians, and one Haitian man at a police checkpoint on Sunday, according to The Miami-Herald. The men told police they were on a "government mission" but did not specify for which government, according to The Herald.

They also told police that "their boss was going to call their boss," implying that someone high in Haiti's government would vouch for them and secure their release, Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles told NPR.

What they were actually doing or who they were potentially working for remains unclear. A State Department spokesperson told Task & Purpose they were aware that Haitian police arrested a "group of individuals, including some U.S. citizens," but declined to answer whether the men were employed by or operating under contract with the U.S. government.

Read More Show Less

A Coast Guard lieutenant arrested this week planned to "murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country," according to a court filing requesting he be detained until his trial.

Read More Show Less
(Getty Images/Spencer Grant)

(Reuters Health) - Military service members who are at risk for suicide may be less likely to attempt to harm themselves when they receive supportive text messages, a U.S. study suggests.

Read More Show Less
Army Sgt. Jeremy Seals died on Oct. 31, 2018, following a protracted battle with stomach cancer. His widow, Cheryl Seals is mounting a lawsuit alleging that military care providers missed her husband's cancer. Task & Purpose photo illustration by Aaron Provost

The widow of a soldier whose stomach cancer was allegedly overlooked by Army doctors for four years is mounting a medical malpractice lawsuit against the military, but due to a decades-old legal rule known as the Feres Doctrine, her case will likely be dismissed before it ever goes to trial.

Read More Show Less