Iran-backed Iraqi militia forces today announced that they plan to “recapture” the strategic al-Tanf border crossing from the U.S.-backed Syrian opposition groups, the Iranian media reports.
They added that they will coordinate their operation with the Syrian Army and seek its help.
“The Syrian Desert to the direction of the country’s south will witness extensive clashes between forces supported by Damascus and terrorists over the control of the al-Tanf border crossing,”
wrote Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.).
According to I.R.G.C. and Iraqi media outlets, the units of the Popular Mobilization Forces (P.M.F.) that will launch the al-Tanf operation are Kata'ib al-Imam Ali, Kata'ib Abu al-Fadhal a-Abbas, and the Kata'ib Hezbollah (also known as the Iraqi Hezbollah).
Fars News Agency added that the pro-Damascus militia forces will use a different route to reach al-Tanf
– mainly passing through regions controlled by the Syrian Army. “The terrorist groups - Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra (the Revolutionary Commando Army) and Usud al-Sharqiya (the Lions of the East Army) –
are attempting to prevent the Iraqi groups from advancing toward the administrative borders of the al-Tanf crossing.
As a result, these [Iraqi] forces have changed their route to the north to reach the crossing through the Uqda al-Zarqa region.”
[However,] on May 18, the U.S. military for the first time targeted an Iranian-directed convoy in southern Syria after it ignored warnings and continued to approach the de-confliction zone, where the U.S. military is training Syrian opposition forces to fight the Islamic State.
The air strike was meant to send a strong signal to the Iranian-supported forces that they will not be allowed to reach the Iraqi border.