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SPOTLIGHT: SYRIAN ARMY’S PROGRESS IN DESERT TRIGGERS TENSION WITH U.S.

The U.S. strikes on Syrian military positions in the Syrian desert is a message that Washington is ready to do anything to protect its interest in eastern Syria.

Not once, but twice, the U.S.-led anti-terror coalition struck Syrian military convoys in the Syrian desert, close to the Tanf border-crossing with Iraq, where the U.S. and Britain have military bases and factions of Syria rebels they are training in that part.

The first strike in the desert was on May 18, when the coalition struck a convoy of pro-government fighters advancing in the desert near the Tanf.

At the time, U.S. Defence Secretary, Jim Mattis, said, America's role in Syria's conflict was unchanged; but after the strikes, the U.S. justified the hits as protecting U.S. troops.

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

While the Syrian army condemned that strike, the general-command released a statement, saying, the Syrian army will continue to battle the Daesh in the desert, as part of an operation dubbed the Great Dawn.

The operation aims to secure the triangle of areas in the Syrian desert between the borders of Iraq, and Jordan.

On Tuesday, the Syrian army said U.S.-led air strikes targeted another military position of the Syrian army, near Tanf, again stressing determination to proceed out of the "legitimate" right of the Syrian army.

"This aggression comes once again to stress the supportive role of terrorism by the forces, which claim otherwise, and at the time when the Syrian army is making progress against the terrorist group," the military statement said.

The statement warned of the risks of such escalation and its reverberations, urging the U.S.-led coalition to curb such acts.

The Syrian-U.S. tension goes way back, since the time when the U.S.-led coalition started its operation in Syria in 2014, without coordination with the Syrian government.

Since then, the Syrian government branded the coalition operations as "illegitimate" and "pointless," pointing out to the Russian intervention, a year later, as crucial in supporting the government against terror groups.

In Sept, 2016, the coalition claimed it erroneously struck at Syrian government troops in Deir el-Zour province, killing over 90 soldiers. The U.S. at the time said, it was a mistake, as it was targeting Daesh positions, but the Syrian government said it was intentional.

In Apr, 2017, the U.S. fired 59 missiles at a government air base in central Syria, in what was said to be retaliation for a chemical attack that killed 90 people and was blamed on the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The strikes were renewed on May 18 and June 6 near Tanf.

Pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV recently said, the timing of the Syrian military operation in the desert is to liberate the eastern desert from Daesh is to secure the supply route between Iran and Syria, through the Iraqi territories and also to the Lebanese territories.

The operation also aims to clear a triangle of border region in the desert, between the Iraqi and Jordanian borders from Daesh.

Such goal is what pushed the U.S. to strike the Syrian military convoys 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 adviser, 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. goal 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 are 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 and 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.

The U.S. of course is not on this alone, as its interests reflect the interests and also fears of Israel, which also opposes any Shiite influence along the Iraqi-Syrian borders.

Ahmad Ashqar, a Syrian political analyst, told Xinhua that the Israeli fear is growing from the advance of the Syrian army and its Shiite allies of the Lebanese Hezbollah, on the Syrian side of the Iraqi borders, and also from the advance of the Shiite-led Hashd Shaabi, or the Popular Mobilisation Forces, of Iraq on the Iraqi side of the borders.

"Israel deems the advance of both forces against the Daesh on both sides of the borders as an Iranian endeavour to secure a land passage from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon's Hezbollah," he said.

Ashqar pointed out that the Israeli-American aim is to stop both forces from reaching each other on the Syrian-Iraqi borders.

It's worth noting that Israel struck Syrian military positions countlessly, during Syria's over six-year-old war, over pretext of hitting Hezbollah-bound weapon shipments from Iran.-- NNN-XINHUA

Source: NAM News Network