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Washington Displays Military Might in East Syria

Washington Displays Military Might in East Syria

Wednesday, 24 October, 2018 - 06:00
General Joseph Votel speaks to reporters during an unannounced visit to the Al Tanf military outpost. AP

The US military base in Al Tanf, southeast Syria, opened its doors to reporters last Monday during the visit of Army General Joseph Votel, who leads the US Central Command.


An Associated Press reporter and journalists from two other media organizations accompanied Votel to the garrison.


It was the first time that media members gained access to the garrison, which opened in 2015. For security reasons, his visit couldn’t be disclosed until after he left the country.


“We have a defeat ISIS mission,” said Votel. “But I do recognize that our presence, our development of partners and relationships down here does have an indirect effect on some of the malign activities that Iran and their various proxies and surrogates would like to pursue down here.”


The US Commander also said the outpost near the Iraq and Jordan borders still serves an important purpose even though US and coalition troops have “largely eliminated” ISIS from the area. But he said the overall mission has not shifted into a counter-Iran campaign.


Meanwhile, Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” and Iranian forces re-infiltrated Tuesday Syria’s south, and areas close to the border with the occupied Golan Heightd and on the border with Jordan, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.


It said that last June, Iran was forced to withdraw to positions 40 kilometers from the border.


“While Iranian forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah have completed their militarily withdrawal from the southern and southwestern borders of Syria, those forces were seen returning deeper to the same territories they had left, but in the form of administrative and intelligence officers,” the Observatory said.


Reliable sources said some 1,600 members were persuaded by “Hezbollah” to deploy in southern Syria in exchange for attractive salaries of up to $300 per person.


Also on Tuesday, US Secretary Michael Pompeo spoke with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and discussed his progress on convening a constitutional committee.


During the telephone conversation, which came on the eve of de Mistura’s trip to Damascus, Pompeo also thanked the UN envoy for his more than four years of service on behalf of the Syrian people, as well as his many years of UN service around the world.


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