Rebels say Syrian army, Iranian-backed militias launch offensive in eastern desert
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 25, 2017,
Jun 25, 2017, 10:03
Last Sunday, the IRGC fired six medium-range ballistic missiles at targets belonging to the Takfiri terror group of ISIL in Syria's northeastern Deir Ezzor Province in response to a June 7 attack by the outfit against two locations in Tehran, which killed 18 people.
The presence of Iranian-backed troops, artillery and tanks and US -led coalition forces in southern Syria, namely around the at-Tanf crossing at the Iraq-Syria border, has slowly turned the area into a flash point.
In the latest sign of increasingly frequent confrontation with Damascus and its allies, Tuesday's incident closely followed Sunday's downing of a piloted Syrian army jet by the U.S. in the southern Raqqa countryside after it dropped bombs near US-backed forces.
Syrian Information Minister Mohammad Ramez Tourjman said Iran's missile strikes against ISIS positions in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor have sent a strong message to the government of Donald Trump to drop any potential plan for launching an attack on Iran or mounting a campaign to isolate the Islamic Republic on the worldwide arena. "It was far from a direct hit or what they have said", he told the Herzliya Conference Tuesday evening.
The coalition's presence in Tanf, on the Damascus-Baghdad highway, was meant to stop Iranian-backed groups from opening an overland route between Iraq and Syria, intelligence sources have said.
The downing of the drone came on the same day Australia announced it would temporarily suspended airstrikes by its forces in Syria after a US fighter jet shot down a Syrian jet, and Syrian ally Russian Federation threatened to target planes from the USA -led coalition operating in the skies over Syria.
They added that the coalition's mission in Syria and Iraq is to defeat the Islamic State. The ministry said strikes in neighboring Iraq, also part of the USA -led coalition campaign, will go on.
It was the first time the Islamic Republic had used missiles in 15 years.
Iran's attack on Islamic State targets in Syria did not meet its objectives.
Elsewhere, the US military confirmed Tuesday that top ISIS cleric Turki al-Binali was killed in a coalition airstrike May 31 in Mayadeen, Syria. With pro-Syrian government forces now between USA -backed fighters at at-Tanf and predominantly Islamic State-controlled areas, any future offensive in the area will be hard.
Sharif says the missile launch reflects Iran's "military power" though Iran has no intention of starting another war.
President Bashar al-Assad's forces, aided by Iranian-backed militias, have engaged in a race with FSA rebels in recent weeks to seize areas in the southeastern desert vacated by retreating Islamic State insurgents.