Introduction — July 16, 2017
The following report has been partly corroborated by an earlier report in the U.S. Military Times: US Stryker vehicles lead Kurdish reinforcements into Raqqa, dated July 7, 2017.
In effect the Fars News report suggests that the U.S. is expanding its military foothold in Syria. The U.S. is using the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to do so as unlike Russia and Iran, Syria did not invite the U.S. in to assist in the fight against Sunni militants.
Hundreds of US Military Vehicles Enter Syria from Iraq
Fars News — July 16, 2017
The Arabic-language media sources reported that over 150 military vehicles of the US army crossed Iraq’s border into Syria.
The Arabic-language Al-Mayadeen news network quoted a well-informed source as saying that over 150 military vehicles of the US army along with their crew crossed the border at Fishkhabour and entered Syrian territories.
The source said that the vehicles were accompanied and backed up by five American Apache military helicopters and non-military vehicles for the first time.
Based on intel, a large number of American, British and Jordanian army men are deployed in Southern Sweida and Dara’a at the border with Jordan (from Tal Shahab to Nasib passageway, al-Ramtha and Khirbet Awad regions) along with a number of British Challenger tanks, nearly 2,300 army men and a number of Cobra and Black Hawk helicopters.
In the meantime, almost 4,000 militants that went under military training in Jordan are deployed in al-Tanf region in Syria.
Local sources in Northeastern Syrian reported on Saturday that a large number of US military vehicles and troops were observed in the different neighborhoods of the Eastern part of Raqqa.
The sources said that a number of the US military vehicles were seen in al-Mashlab neighborhood that was recently captured by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
In the meantime, the US military helicopters increased flights over Raqqa in recent days.
Meantime, footage released recently revealed that the US was operating an airbase in the Eastern parts of Aleppo near the provincial border with Raqqa.
According to AMN, the footage showed a large US plane taking off and plenty of Humvees protecting the site.
Also, an American flag was hoisted above the airfield which was located in the territory controlled by the SDF.
Meanwhile, Colonel Ryan Dillon, the US-led Coalition Spokesman, confirmed dozens of US military advisors were deployed inside Raqqa city with US marines providing artillery support against the ISIL from the surrounding areas.
He said the troops, many of them special operations forces, were working in an “advise, assist and accompany” role to support Kurdish fighters in battle against ISIL.
“They are much more exposed to enemy contact than those in Iraq,” Dillon added.
He stressed that the number of US forces in Raqqa was “not hundreds” and that they had been working closely with SDF fighters since the operations to encircle Raqqa began.
The Pentagon is secretive about exactly how big its footprint is in Syria, but has previously declared that some 500 US special forces are there to train and assist the SDF.
Kurds heavily assisted by US soldiers and bombers – have captured some 35% of Raqqa city despite facing fierce resistance from the ISIL militants.
A Kurdish commander announced early July that the US Army established seven military bases in regions controlled by the Kurds in Eastern Syria.
Siban Hamou was quoted as saying by al-Sharq al-Awsat that the US army established six military airports and a base on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates River, adding that a modern large airport in Kobani (Ein al-Arab) was the most important one of them.
“The US has set up two airports in Hasaka, one airport in Qamishli, two airports in al-Malekiyeh (Dirik), and one more airport in Tal Abyadh at border with Turkey in addition to a military squad center in the town of Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo,” Hamou said.
Hamou went on to say that 1,300 forces of the US-led coalition were deployed in the airports and center.
Meantime, other reports declared that the US-led forces have several times transferred the ISIL leaders from Iraq and Syria to other regions by heliborne operations.