On September 7, the US-led coalition announced that its troops had started a military exercise in the al-Tanaf base in southeastern Syria in order to “hone their warfighting skills for counterterrorism operations.”
According to the coalition, the exercise involved an aerial assault by a company-sized dismounted element, which will conduct a fire rehearsal before departing the 55-km de-escalation zone around the al-Tanaf base. The CNN TV said that 100 U.S. service members are participating in the exercise that will last for several days.
“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 … Exercises like this bolster our defeat-ISIS capabilities and ensure we are ready to respond to any threat to our forces,” Navy Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), said in a press release.
An unnamed defense official told CNN that the exercise is specifically designed for Russian and Damascus government forces in the area to show the U.S. capabilities. Last week, Russia warned the US-led coalition that it will carry out “precision strikes” on positions of “terrorist” in al-Tanaf, according to CNN’s “sources”.
Russia and its allies have repeatedly accused the US-led coalition of facilitating militants’ movements in the border area of al-Tanaf. However, the coalition claims that its troops are deployed in al-Tanaf to counter ISIS.