Middle East Syria sends army, Shia militias closer to border with Iraq, Jordan

Syria sends army, Shia militias closer to border with Iraq, Jordan
Syrian Arab Army (SAA) after recapturing 70 square-kilometers of territory near al-Seen Military Airbase. (Photo: AFP/George Ourfalian)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Rebel sources and commanders in Syria on Monday claimed the government army and Iranian-backed militias moved troops to a desert region on the border with Iraq and Jordan.

According to Reuters, the rebels said their intelligence showed that hundreds of Syrian troops and Shia militias with tanks and heavy equipment entered the town of Sabaa Biyar, east of the al-Seen military base.

The remote town 150 kilometers from the Syrian capital was captured by the army and its allies last week after Islamic State (IS) militants abandoned surrounding areas.

The rebels claim the Syrian government forces want to prevent the strategic regions from falling into the hands of the US-backed moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The FSA advanced against IS in the area, also known as the Syrian Badia, which stretches from the town of Bir Qassab, 50 kilometers southeast of Damascus, all the way to the borders with Iraq and Jordan.

Syrian government warplanes struck the rebels’ outposts near the borders on May 1.

“They have sent big reinforcements from artillery, to tanks and armored vehicles,” said Major Issam Al Reis, the spokesperson for the Southern Front group of the FSA.

Rebels suggest the ultimate goal of the Syrian army’s push in the Badia was to link its forces with Iraq’s Shia paramilitary groups.

 

A map showing the al-Tanf border crossing. (Photo: BBC)

The push by the Syrian army and its Iranian-backed allies could bring them closer to the al-Tanf base near the Iraqi border where US Special Forces operate and train FSA, rebels fear.

The al-Tanf base and Iraqi border crossing was attacked by IS militants in April and has previously been a target of Russian and Syrian airstrikes.

 

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany