Although Donald Trump initially expressed reluctance to get involved in the Syrian Civil War, the USA is currently in the middle of a battle in the south of the country between the US military and Iranian- backed forces which support the Syrian Regime.
Josh Rogin wrote on the Washington Post, this could be Trump’s opportunity to save Syria, whilst damaging the Iranian Regime.
The Trump administration appear to paint the May 18 airstrike, near to the al-Tanf base on Syria’s border with Jordan and Iraq, as a one-off event. A statement on the incident from U.S. Central Command said that pro-regime forces had entered an established no conflict zone and posed a threat to the opposition forces there, as well as the American troops who were training them.
But Rogin assess that this was not an isolated event, citing officials and experts that there is a “rapidly accelerating confrontation” which was triggered by Iran-backed militias, who are attempting to build a corridor from Lebanon and Syria through Baghdad to Tehran.
Rogin warned that if the move by Iran were successful, this would dangerously impact the security of the middle East, making the fight against the so-called Islamic State harder and undermining US efforts to train and equip the Sunni-Arab forces.
He wrote: “In short, it’s a fight that the United States cannot and should not avoid. It’s also an opportunity for Trump to accomplish what his administration says it wants to do in the Middle East: Push back against Iranian aggression and expansionism.”
Although the Trump administration doesn’t quite see eye-to eye with Rogin on this. He reports that a White House official told him that the strike back call was made by military commanders on the ground, who have the authority to strike back if they believe US troops to be in danger, and that the official policy on Syria has not changed.
But the strike has altered Iranian policy.
The bombs hit a militia backed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Forces called Kataib Imam Ali, and the Regime-affiliated FARS news agency reported that Iran would send 3,000 Hezbollah fighters to the al-Tanf region in response to what they called a US plot.
The Iranian Regime’s goals are:
1. Establish control over the security triangle so that Regime troops have freedom of movement between Syria and Iraq
2. Block US-supported rebels from the area to prevent them taking a city from ISIS
Rogin concluded: “The battle for Syria’s south is on, and the Trump team must decide if the United States will play a decisive role. Trump could fulfil his promises to thwart Iran and bring greater stability to Syria — if he acts fast.”