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Israel demands that US should maintain strategic base in Syria

Armoured vehicles are seen as Turkey and the US start a joint ground patrols as part of efforts to establish safe zone east of Euphrates in Syria on 8 September 2019 [Emin Sansar/Anadolu Agency]
Armoured vehicles are seen as Turkey and the US start a joint ground patrols as part of efforts to establish safe zone east of Euphrates in Syria on 8 September 2019 [Emin Sansar/Anadolu Agency]

Israel has called on the United States to maintain a military base in south-eastern Syria for strategic and geopolitical reasons, Israeli TV channel Kan reported yesterday.

Al-Tanf base, set up and controlled by the US military in 2016 during the ongoing Syrian conflict, lies in a strategically important area near Syria’s borders with Jordan and Iraq. It serves as a base for a group known as the Revolutionary Commando Army which opposes both the Syrian regime and Daesh and has received training from the US in Jordan.

Israel stressed that the US military presence in Al-Tanf is of paramount importance due to its location near the Syria-Iraq border in particular, making it an obstacle to the creation of a land corridor by Iran. Such a corridor, which Israel has long warned about, will reportedly help Iran to transport arms, fighters and supplies via the Shia militias that it controls in Iraq all the way through Syria to Lebanon where Tehran’s powerful proxy Hezbollah is based.

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According to the TV channel, while the US is withdrawing its troops from Syria, it promised Israel that the self-styled Jewish state’s interests will not be harmed. Consequently, Kan insisted, the US should maintain its base at Al-Tanf.

The US announced that it would be withdrawing all military forces from Syria in February this year, but over the months since then the details have varied and US troops still remain within the war-torn country. President Donald Trump again stressed the withdrawal following the Turkish army’s launch of Operation Peace Spring last week.

The operation, which is the third Turkish incursion into northern Syria against the presence of Kurdish militias on its border, caused international uproar after Trump apparently gave it the green light.

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