US expands presence in Syrian desert, rebels say

"At the same time, the US-led anti-terrorist coalition has several times attacked the Syrian government forces near the Jordanian border, so it can be assumed that such attacks will continue, but this time involving the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems", the Russian Defense Ministry added. According to him, the second base was expected to be a "first line of defense" against any attack by Iranian-backed Syrian pro-government forces.

On Wednesday, a senior intelligence source told Reuters that the United States military has moved its new truck-mounted HIMARS rocket launcher system from Jordan to At Tanf. It is possible to assume that similar strikes could be continued in the future, involving HIMARS from now on.

In May, the US-led coalition struck a convoy of military vehicles belonging to Shia militias loyal to the Syrian government near Al-Tanf.

"A convoy going down the road didn't respond to numerous ways for it to be warned off from getting too close to coalition forces in al-Tanf", the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

It noted that "the range of HIMARS can not allow for providing support for US-controlled Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) operating against Daesh in Raqqa".

This is the first time the USA has moved HIMARS into Syria, but not the first time it has used it in Syria.

Russian Federation said on Saturday it had told the United States it was unacceptable for Washington to strike pro-government forces in Syria following the Al-Tanf attacks last month.

"We have that garrison in al-Tanf that is a temporary base and location for us to train our partner forces to fight to defeat ISIS, but that is the only base in southern Syria or location where we have coalition forces", Dillon said. Pro-government forces have taken up positions north of Tanf, potentially cutting off the USA -backed rebels from advancing.

"Deploying any type of foreign weapons on Syrian territory... must be approved by the government of the sovereign country", it said.

The ministry said Lavrov and Tillerson had also discussed the need to try to mend the rift between Qatar and other Arab nations through negotiations and had talked about the state of US-Russia relations and planned meetings between officials from the two countries.

Aided by allied militias backed by Iran, it also hopes to join up with Iraqi forces advancing against Islamic State across the border to secure a land route from Damascus to Baghdad.

  • Leroy Wright