Archive for the ‘Jordanian Military’ category

Iraqi officers land in Syria, stir Israeli concern

May 17, 2017

Iraqi officers land in Syria, stir Israeli concern, DEBKAfile, May 17, 2017

Israel was deeply disquieted to discover that Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi had secretly pivoted his support away from the US-Jordanian campaign for control over the borders of Iraq and Syria, and switched instead to alignment with Moscow and Tehran.

Israeli policy-makers are worried that President Donald Trump will be constrained by the daily barrage of personal attacks descending on from fully focusing on the forces building up dangerously against US military plans in Syria.

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Israeli security chiefs were gravely concerned Wednesday, May 17, when they learned that a high-ranking Iraqi military delegation had arrived in Damascus, the first in decades during which the Iraqi and Syrian ruling regimes were at odds, for a discussion on the situation unfolding on the Syrian-Iraqi border – in particular the Al-Tanf crossing.

DEBKAfile’s military sources reported on May 15 and May 16 on the potential for a clash of arms over this strategic crossing, which is situated at the intersection of the Jordanian, Iraq, and Syrian borders and commands the No.1 Route linking Baghdad with Damascus and the Jordanian capital of Amman.

Wednesday saw a flurry of military activity in the area by US, British and Jordanian special forces, on the one hand, and Syrian, Hizballah and other pro-Iranian forces, on the other. A race appeared to be quietly developing over who would reach the border first and seize control of the Al-Tanf crossing.

On this very subject, the Iraqi military delegation held separate talks in Damascus with senior officers of the Russian command in Syria and senior Iranian officers posted at Syrian General Staff headquarters. Concurrently, the Russian military command announced that Russia, Iran and Iraq were holding consultations on how to secure the border regions between Syria and Iraq.

Our forces add that the three groups of officers got down to brass talks, in fact, on ways to fit Iraqi army units into the Syrian-Iranian effort for guaranteeing full control by Damascus and Tehran of the sensitive border regions.

Israel was deeply disquieted to discover that Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi had secretly pivoted his support away from the US-Jordanian campaign for control over the borders of Iraq and Syria, and switched instead to alignment with Moscow and Tehran.

Israeli policy-makers are worried that President Donald Trump will be constrained by the daily barrage of personal attacks descending on from fully focusing on the forces building up dangerously against US military plans in Syria.

US, UK, Jordanian forces enter S. Syria

May 15, 2017

US, UK, Jordanian forces enter S. Syria, DEBKAfile, May 15, 2017

DEBKAfile’s military sources explain that Damascus and Tehran acted to pre-empt the US-Jordanian-Israeli military operations along the Israeli and Jordanian borders with Syria, lest they lead to the carving out of US-controlled security zones in southern Syria.

Iran continued to pour additional troops into Damascus through the Baghdad-Damascus highway, on the one hand, while, on the other, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi offered Washington two of his army’s divisions, which would be sent into Syria to support US military operations in the southeast.

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US special forces, together with British and Jordanian elite troops, moved into southern Syria late Sunday, May 14. They were acting to counter the Syrian-Iranian scheme to nullify the American plan for posting Jordanian forces in southeastern Syria, which timed for the days before US President Donald Trump’s trip to the Middle East.

The US-led armored force with British and Jordanian units crossed from northern Jordan through the Tanf Border-Crossing between the Hashemite Kingdom, Iraq and Syria, and took up positions capable of consolidating their control of the main road between Palmyra and Baghdad. Some of their moves were coordinated with Israel.
(See map).

This push aimed at countering the drive in the last few days by hundreds of Syrian troops, Iranian-backed Shiite militias and Hizballah’s Radwan special forces, with tanks and heavy equipment, to take over the town of Sabaa Biyar. Located in sparsely desert territory, this town lies 110km west of the Syrian-Iraqi border, 95km north of the Syrian-Jordanian border and 128km east of Damascus.

Its high strategic importance for Tehran, Damascus and Hizballah lies in its command of the border between Syria, Iraq and Jordan and of Highway No. 1 which links the Jordanian capital of Amman with Baghdad.

DEBKAfile’s military sources explain that Damascus and Tehran acted to pre-empt the US-Jordanian-Israeli military operations along the Israeli and Jordanian borders with Syria, lest they lead to the carving out of US-controlled security zones in southern Syria.

Our military sources add that Moscow too eyes the new US-led military movements with mistrust, in view of its potential impact on the Russian plan for four ceasefire zones in Syria, in cooperation with Iranian and Turkish forces. The Russians are accordingly feeding Tehran and Damascus intelligence on the US-led movements.

On Sunday, too, the Israeli Defense Forces launched a large-scale military exercise in the Galilee and Golan regions close to its borders with Syria and Lebanon. The war game may well run over its final date in order to keep a substantial military force poised on along Israel’s northern borders, in case of attempts to disrupt the Trump visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel from May 22 to May 24.

Other military movements in the region this week were taken by the Iraqi army and Iraqi Shiite militias under the command of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers. Iran continued to pour additional troops into Damascus through the Baghdad-Damascus highway, on the one hand, while, on the other, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi offered Washington two of his army’s divisions, which would be sent into Syria to support US military operations in the southeast.

For the time being, the Trump administration’s plans for an offensive against the Islamic State appear to have been put on a back burner.

ISIS routs new US-backed Syrian force at Abu Kemal

July 1, 2016

ISIS routs new US-backed Syrian force at Abu Kemal, DEBKAfile, July 1, 2016

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A battle on June 29 between ISIS and a pro-American Syrian rebel force near the Syria-Iraq border will go down as one of the most striking defeats ever suffered by an American-backed Syrian force trained in Jordan in the annals of the war on terror.

It was not the first, say DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources. In August 2015, a force from Al Qaeda’s affiliate Nusra Front destroyed a similar rebel force called Division 30. And 12 hours earlier, on June 28, ISIS suicide bombers murdered 44 people in a bloodbath at Ataturk international airport in Istanbul.

The following timeline of events is instructive:

1. In March and April of this year, military instructors from the CIA, together with Jordanian intelligence officers and special operations units, established a new militia to fight ISIS called the New Syria Army. Most of the recruits were from Syrian refugee camps. The US furnished the militia with funds and advanced weapons.

2. They were trained by US and Jordanian military instructors at Jordan’s al-Rukban base in the Berm area on the Syrian border.

3. In May, American commanders in Jordan decided that the militia would launch its first mission in eastern Syria near the border with Iraq.

4. In June, it became clear to the Americans and the Jordanians that the time had come for the new force to go into action.

There were five reasons:

A. After the capture of the Iraqi city of Fallujah from ISIS, the pro-Iranian Shiite militias that participated in the campaign, namely the Popular Mobilization Forces and the Badar Forces, had started moving west toward the Iraq-Syria border (see map).

B. Syrian army and Hizballah forces had embarked on a parallel eastward movement from the vicinity of Deir ez-Zor toward the Iraqi border (see map). Their goal was to link up with the Iraqi Shiite militias on the Syrian-Iraqi border and create a land bridge for the use of all pro-Iranian forces in the two countries.

C. Washington and Amman regarded this development as dangerous and resolved to preempt it.

D. To that end, the New Syria Army was to be sent into action to take the town of Abu Kamal near the border.

E. The commanders assumed that the loss of Abu Kamal would deal a blow to ISIS forces in eastern Syria and plant a pro-American wedge against the linkup of the two pro-Iranian forces and so foil their projected land bridge athwart Iraq and Syria. .

5. On June 21, an ISIS suicide bomber driving a stolen Jordanian military truck blew himself up in the area of Jordan’s al-Rukban base on the Syrian border, in an attempt to avert the coming Abu Kemal attack by inflicting heavy losses on the new militia.  Most of those killed were Jordanian border guards.

6. After the attack, US and Jordanian helicopters airlifted the new militia combatants to a forward base set up at al-Tanf inside Iraq, 230 kilometers from Abu Kamal. They were attacked twice by Russian air strikes in an effort to thwart the pro-US militia’s return to Syria.

7. On June 29, the new Syrian force nonetheless launched its attack, under the direction of Jordanian special operations and military intelligence officers, and the supervision of American elite forces officers at the US-Jordanian war room north of Amman.

8. However, the new Syrian militia was speedily ambushed by ISIS, which apparently was tipped off about the impending attack and its routes of approach. Dozens of Syrian militiamen were killed or wounded, and the force fled from the battlefield. Those unable to flee were shot dead or decapitated.

9. The Jordanian officers who commanded the force were among those who fled.

10. ISIS videos of the battle showed that advanced US military equipment provided the militiamen had fallen into the terrorist organization’s hands, recalling the sights from Iraq of two years ago, when ISIS captured as booty masses of American military hardware from fleeing troops.

The US and Jordan once again failed to establish a Syrian force capable of fighting ISIS. They also lost the chance to gain control of the situation in eastern and southern Syria.

No official in Washington was ready to comment on the battle.