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SPOTLIGHT: SYRIAN ARMY UNLEASHES ‘GREAT DAWN’ BATTLES AGAINST DAESH

DAMASCUS-- The Syrian army and its allies have unleashed a military campaign called the "Great Dawn" against the Islamic State (DAESH) group on several Syrian fronts, a military source told Xinhua on Friday.

The operation has started a few days ago, during which the army and its allies captured 13,000 square kilometres in central Syria, mainly in the Syrian desert in the southeastern countryside of Homs province in central Syria, and in the mountainous Qalamoun region north-west of the capital Damascus.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the operation is the largest against IS since the war in Syria started over six years ago.

The Syrian army and allies swiftly advanced and broke through the defences of the DAESH militants in the southeastern countryside of Homs, where they captured several key areas from the terror-designated group, the source said.

The military operation also enabled the Syrian army to secure the highway between the capital Damascus and the ancient city of Palmyra.

This operation, which has started days ago, aims primarily to defeat IS in the Syrian desert and secure the triangle of border areas between Syria, Jordan, and Iraq.

On May 18, the U.S. air force struck a convoy of pro-government fighters advancing in the desert near the Tanf border crossing wit Iraq.

Then, reports said the U.S. was protecting its troops and rebels its backing in Tanf, where the U.S. and Britain have bases.

At the time, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said America's role in Syria's conflict was unchanged, after the strikes.

"No. We are not increasing our role in the Syrian civil war. But we will defend our troops," Mattis said, when asked about the strikes.

For its part, the Syrian army stressed that it will continue to fight the terrorist groups and capture areas near the Jordanian and Iraqi borders, as it's the "legitimate" duty of the Syrian army.

Since then, the army and its allies of Shiite fighters continued to make progress in the desert and are reportedly closing in on areas where the U.S. troops are located.

On Friday, the pro-government al-Watan online newspaper, which is close to the Syrian government, said the Syrian army captured a military base northwest of the Zaza area, as part of the progress on the road toward Tanf.

Meanwhile, pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV said the timing of the operation to liberate the eastern desert from IS is to secure the supply route between Iran and Syria through the Iraqi territories and also to the Lebanese territories.

Such goal is what pushed the U.S. to strike the Syrian military convoy near Tanf, as the U.S. and its allies of the Gulf States don't want any Iranian sway on the borders, particularly after the visit of Iraq's national security advisor, Faleh al-Fayad, to Syria on May 18, during which he discussed with President Bashar al-Assad ways to commence joint military operations between the Syrian and Iraqi military forces on the Iraqi-Syrian borders.

The al-Mayadeen report said the U.S. desire to expand its sway in eastern Syria, mainly in Deir al-Zour province and the Syrian desert at the triangle between Syria, Iraq and Jordan, is to prevent Iran and its allies from connecting in Syria and Lebanon.

The second goal is to control the border crossings by training the new rebel groups called New Syria Army, which is set to be deployed across the Syrian-Jordanian borders, and part of the Syrian-Iraqi borders.

The third aim, the report said, is to have the Kurdish-led Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) deployed at the Iraqi-Syrian borders, while the Turkish-backed rebels and Turkish forces on the northern frontier between Syria and Turkey.

So the main aim is to weaken the Shiite influence in Syria by trying to hinder any border connection between Syria, Iran through Iraq, and that's why the Syrian army and its allies of the Lebanese Hezbollah group and other Shiite fighters are fighting to thwart the American plan in Syria.

But the question remains as to whether the U.S. will strike the Syrian forces again if they get closer to the Tanf area and the U.S. and Britain basis, analysts said.

Syria's Interior Minister Muhammad Sha'ar said that the great victory in Syria will be realised when the entire Syrian territories are free of terrorism.--NNN-XINHUA

Source: NAM News Network