- Syrian media says the country’s army is preparing an offensive on an eastern Syrian town to fight ISIS, but ISIS isn’t there – and the US is.
- The US has recently been clashing with Russian, Iranian, and Syrian forces in eastern Syria, dealing them devastating defeats.
- It looks like the Syrian army and its backers could be headed for another such defeat.
After a massive battle that saw up to 300 pro-government fighters killed at the hands of the US and its local allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces, it looks like Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military will mount another offensive.
Pro-Assad Al Masdar reported on Monday that Syria’s 5th Legion and several units from Hezbollah are preparing an attack on ISIS near Deir Ezzor, in the country’s east. Al Masdar seemed to confirm that the Syrian troops planned to encounter US-backed forces in a subsequent story on Wednesday.
But Syria’s own state-run media said in November that Deir Ezzor had been liberated from ISIS. Western assessments of Syria no longer say the terror group holds territory there.
Instead, the US and the SDF hold much of eastern Syria, where the Syrian Army and its Lebanese and Iranian backers will head. Al Masdar announced the offensive would begin in three weeks and move under the cover of Russian airstrikes and with Iranians, who are thought to have 70,000 fighters in Syria.
Those fighters may well meet the 2,000 or so US troops in Syria, but despite the numerical advantage, pro-regime forces have fared poorly against the US.
In a battle between pro-government forces and US-backed forces on February 7, 500 Syrian-aligned soldiers launched an attack on a well-known headquarters of the SDF with 122mm howitzers, Russian-made tanks, and multiple launch rocket systems. According to the Pentagon, they only wounded one SDF fighter.
- Senior Airman Patrick Wyatt
The US-led coalition responded with “AC-130 gunships, F-15s, F-22s, Army Apache helicopter gunships and Marine Corps artillery,” according to Fox News reporter Lucas Tomlinson. CNN also reported that rocket launchers and MQ-9 drones were used in the attack.
The Pentagon said it had killed 100 pro-regime fighters, but a later report from Bloomberg indicated that as many as 300 Russian military contractors had been killed in the fighting.
Days later, the Pentagon told Business Insider that a US drone destroyed a Russian-made T-72 battle tank firing towards the SDF and its coalition partners.