The U.S. may keep its forces in the al-Tanaf base in southeastern Syria for undetermined amount of time despite President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all American troops from the war-torn country, a senior administration official told NBC News on January 5.
The American TV channel hinted that the step is aimed at pressuring Syria and Iran as the base is located on a vital international highway that could link Tehran with Beirut through Baghdad and Damascus.
According to the official, National Security Advisor John Bolton, who is on a trip to the Middle East, will take the opinions of Jordanian and Israeli officials before deciding next steps, including how important the base is and whether it has to stay in its current location.
This is not the first sign that Washington is planning to manipulate the decision to withdraw its forces from Syria. Earlier, U.S. officials told the Reuters news agency that there is no timeline for the withdraw that may take “months.”
Last month, an official in the Pentagon said that U.S. forces will withdraw from its base in the area of al-Tanaf as a part of the White House’s decision to withdraw all troops from the war torn country. Later, the commander of the largest US-backed group there confirmed that the withdraw will happen.
Now the U.S. is apparently planning to stay if Israel and Jordan are willing to support this step. While Amman will not likely accept this idea due to pressure from Damascus and other Arab countries, Israel may support it. However, Moscow’s pressure on Tel Aviv could lead to a deal similar to the one reached on southern Syria last year, where US-backed fighters surrendered to the Damascus government forces.