As ISIS is collapsing in Syria and Iraq, sides involved in the conflicts have increased their efforts in the area of the Syrian-Iraqi border.
Earlier this month, western-backed militant groups, supported by the US-led coalition’s special forces and airpower, increased their activity in southern Syria. The US-led forces advanced in the southern direction and seized Humaymah southeast of the ancient city of Palmyra but failed to reach al-Bukamal, an important border town controlled by ISIS.
US-led forces are pretending to control the whole Syrian-Iraqi border area south of the Euphrates. However, while al-Bukamal remains under the ISIS rule, this is not possible. Southeastern Syria is a desert area with a low number of settlements. Thus, Western-backed militants don’t have a full control even of a chunk of the Syrian-Iraqi border south of Humaymah while they don’t control al-Bukamal.
Another important target is the government-held city of Deir Ezzor that is under a brutal siege imposed by ISIS terrorists. The Deir Ezzor countryside is full of oil fields and if US-backed forces reach it they would impose control over these important assets. Furthermore, Deir Ezzor and Raqqah remain the only cities, which US-backed forces can capture or partly capture under a pretext of combating terrorists.
Reports that about 150 servicemen of the US and UK special operations forces entered southern Syria in order to support a ‘rebel advance’ against ISIS in the area contribute to the idea that Washington and its allies are going to attempt to do this.
At the same time, Syrian government forces also increased operations in the southeastern Syria desert, capturing a checkpoint at the Zaza crossroad southeast of Palmyra. The checkpoint is located on the road heading to al-Tanf and allows the Syrian army to pose a threat of an advance in this direction. The government forces progress in the area also slows down the US-backed advance in southeastern Syria.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units also increased military operations against ISIS, advancing in the Qayrawan area in the direction of the border from the Iraqi side. Last week, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Deputy Commander of the PMU, announced that the PMU is seeing the Syrian-Iraqi border as a strategic objective of its military operations.
The PMU leadership also understands that the control over the border is an important step in combating ISIS and increasing its influence in the region.
According to Iraqi sources and some experts, the PMU is a power that has capabilities to come to power in Iraq after the defeat of ISIS. And the PMU will likely do this despite the opposition of the US-led block.
The PMU is mostly consisting from Arabs that are close by their vision of the situation in the region to the Damascus government. The main goal of the US and its allies is to prevent the situation when the PMU could dominate in Iraq or to build a large buffer zone between Iraq and Syria dividing potential allies.
The global elites successively oppose to a creation of united Arab entity in the Middle East. Their policy in the region is directly aimed at this and the situation in Syria and Iraq is an example of this long-standing strategy.
In this light, the US-backed militant advance “against ISIS” along the Syrian-Iraqi border is just a tool to achieve some geopolitical goals in the Middle East.