Russian warplanes had neutralized a unit of the US-backed al-Qaryatayn Martyrs Brigade near the southeastern Syrian area of al-Tanf where the US-led coalition maintains a large garrison, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced on August 5.
In a statement, the ministry said that the warplanes were counducting a routine patrol over a desert area near al-Tanf on August 4 when they located the unit. The warplanes then targeted several caves where the unit’s members were hiding.
“This terrorist group is based in the al-Tanf are, supplied and trained by instructors from the US Army Special Operations Forces … Operating from the desert, the militants of the al-Qaryatayn Martyrs Brigade committed acts of sabotage against the civilian population and civilian infrastructure in Syria,” the statement reads.
The ministry released footage of the pinpoint strikes on the al-Qaryatayn Martyrs Brigade’s hideouts, which were apparently carried out by Ka-52 attack helicopters.
The al-Qaryatayn Martyrs Brigade was formed in 2014 with direct support from the US. Before moving to al-Tanf in 2016, the group was active in the deserts of Damascus and Homs. In 2017, the US-led coalition claimed that it had ceased support for the group. However, the group continued to operate in al-Tanf. Over the next two years, many militants of the group left to opposition-held areas in Syria’s northern region.
This was the second Russian attack on US proxies in al-Tanf in recent months. In June, a series of Russian strikes hit positions of the Revolutionary Commando Army (MaT), the US-led coalition’s main proxy in al-Tanf garrison. The strikes were reportedly a response to an attack by MaT militants that resulted in Russian military casualties. The US-led coalition was alerted ahead of the airstrikes, which caused material losses only.
The US-led coalition maintains a 55 kilometers no-fly zone around al-Tanf garrison. Despite this, Russian warplanes conduct reconnaissance sorties and patrols over the area on a regular basis.
Russia and Syria accused the US-led coalition of sheltering and training terrorists in al-Tanf 55-kilometer zone more than once in the last few months. Terrorists trained there were allegedly sent to Syria’s central region to fight government forces with ISIS cells. There was also claims about some of them being sent to Ukraine to fight against the Russian military that is currently conducting a special operation there.