U.S. Launches ‘Defeat-ISIS’ War Drills in Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

"Our forces will demonstrate the capability to deploy rapidly, assault a target with integrated air and ground forces, and conduct a rapid exfiltration anywhere in the OIR combined joint operations area", stated US Navy Capt. Bill Urban, the spokesman for CENTCOM.

The troops were flown by helicopter to the base at Tanf - a small town near Syria's borders with Iraq and Jordan. The US has long demanded everyone stay away from this base, except rebels of course.

Dozens of USA troops are reportedly stationed at the base.

The deconfliction telephone line was established shortly after Moscow intervened in Syria's civil war to prevent a military clash between the United States and Russian Federation.

Attacking with those types of weapons in a specific campaign against the United States protected area at At Tanf would be a significant escalation in the sporadic violence in the area. In turn, the U.S. used the deconfliction line to tell the Russians the ongoing U.S. military activity is an exercise.

Russian Federation sent the US two messages warning that it planned to attack "terrorists" in the same area as At Tanf, where USA -led coalition forces are garrisoned in the fight against ISIS.

Officials have stated that the military drill is designed for Russian and regime units in the area to understand U.S. capabilities, as per the CNN report.

The exercise was detailed in a statement from the US Central Command but did not mention that the command ordered the exercise specifically after a September 1 warning from Russian Federation that it was going to enter a restricted area of southern Syria where US troops are located, the official said. "However, if attacked, the United States will not hesitate to use necessary and proportionate force to defend U.S., coalition or partner forces", said another.

Russian warplanes have been carrying out intense airstrikes in Syria's northwest, pounding rebel-held areas in Idlib province and surrounding regions that have become the last sanctuary for the opposition.

Brown also pointed out that Moscow has previously agreed not to enter the zone around Tanf, saying: "We expect the Russians to abide by this agreement". With Russia's military directly involved and giving the United States advanced warning, clearly a USA attack won't be taken the same way as those past incidents. Putin rejected it, claiming that the possible fate of civilians was being used as a "pretext" to ease pressure on what he called terrorists.

The U.S. Operation Inherent Resolve coalition uses the At Tanf Garrison to train Syrian fighters who are confronting Islamic State militants.

On Monday, Trump took to Twitter to warn Syrian president Bashar al-Assad not to "recklessly attack" Idlib province.

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