‘US trying to establish zone under its influence in southern Syria’
In a statement on Thursday, Russia's Defense Ministry slammed the reported American deployment of rocket launchers from Jordan to its base in At Tanf.
The ministry added that experience shows these weapons are more likely to be used against Syrian government forces fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISL), rather than against the terrorists themselves.
The weapon in question is the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, also known as HIMARS. It is capable of destroying artillery, air defense systems, trucks and personnel carriers.
On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the deployment may be intended to cut off Syrian government troops from allies in Iraq, since there are no IS militants in the region to target with the weapons.
RT asked Dr. Jamal Wakeem for his opinion on who the Pentagon is trying to surprise with this deployment – IS or the Syrian Army.
Jamal Wakeem: I don’t believe that the Americans are concerned about fighting ISIS. I believe their primary objective is still to topple the Syrian regime. We need to admit first that the Americans and their allies were the ones to create the crisis in Syria, as part of their grand strategy to block Eurasia from having access to the east Mediterranean… I believe the US is trying … to establish a zone under its influence in southern Syria, now that the Kurds in northern Syria are pushing southward in order to widen the region that is controlled by them.
At the same time, the Americans are trying to block any possibility of a geographical link between Baghdad and Damascus, as a means for them to marginalize Iran and the Lebanese resistance from the Syrian arena in preparation for the future strike against the Syrian Army and also against its allies. I believe that this is the main objective of the US. Now that the Syrian Army was able to reach the Iraqi border after it was able to bypass At Tanf, that was targeted on several occasions by the US, the Americans see that their strategy is being under threat. That is why they deployed these missiles that would target mainly the Syrian Army, and I believe we will see a further escalation of the situation. The Americans know very well that the stability of the regime relies mainly on the stability of the capital, Damascus…
Military analyst Kamal Alam agrees that there are reasons for concern over the US deployment of multiple rocket launchers.
“Over the last couple of years, especially in the last six months, we’ve seen any US deployments – whether it is in the air or on the ground – targeting Syrian government forces and the Syrian Arab Army, despite the public statement saying they are not meant to fight the Syrian military – that is what eventually happens. The worst example being in Deir ez-Zor, which killed more than 100 Syrian troops, and then of course we’ve had more recent attacks near the Jordanian border and the Iraq border by the US forces and the Syrian forces,” he told RT.
“The Syrian government is a legitimate, recognized government by the UN, and it’s got ambassadors from over 20 countries in Damascus. It has every right to defend its territory and airspace. So it is in no way the aggressor. The US can perhaps say they are doing self-defense against the terrorist groups, but in that the US and the Syrian military need to work together to fight the terrorist groups, not to fight each other,” Alam said.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.