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MIDDLE EAST TRENDING-MIDDLE EAST

Saudi Arabia To Create US-Backed Military Group in Eastern Syria

Maj. Gen. Terrence J. McKenrick, US Army Central deputy commanding and Gen. Dhafer bin Ali Al-Shehri, Royal Saudi Land Forces northwest area commander, attend the Earnest Leader 17 closing ceremony held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on August 10, 2017. The purpose of the Earnest Leader 17 exercise was to enhance interoperability and strengthen U.S. and Royal Saudi Land Forces military-to-military relationships (U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Mark Hanson)
Maj. Gen. Terrence J. McKenrick, US Army Central deputy commanding and Gen. Dhafer bin Ali Al-Shehri, Royal Saudi Land Forces northwest area commander, attend the Earnest Leader 17 closing ceremony held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on August 10, 2017. The purpose of the Earnest Leader 17 exercise was to enhance interoperability and strengthen U.S. and Royal Saudi Land Forces military-to-military relationships (U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Mark Hanson)

After declaring the defeat of ISIS in Syria, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia seem to be beefing up security forces in Eastern Syria.

Saudi Arabia plans to create a military group in eastern Syria with backing from the United States, according to a report from the Iranian Fars News Agency. The move coincides with Washington’s continued military aid to militants in Euphrates, an eastern Syrian suburb.

The Arabic-language TV channel, al-Mayadeen, reported that the planned move will be backed by financial and military assistance through a number of tribes in the region, as tribal sources confirmed to Almaydeen TV.

The channel added that the new military force is intended to reinforce the Deir Ezzur military council that is linked with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the region. The SDF is a U.S.-backed anti-ISIS coalition dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and other smaller Arab, Syriac and Turkmen militias.

Al-Mayadeen further noted that Riyadh plans to bring to the region militants affiliated with the al-Ghad group which is commanded by Ahmad al-Jarba in Eastern Syria, who has been allegedly fighting Turkey’s military in the area. Al-Jarba is a Syrian opposition member who once served as President of the Syrian National Coalition from 2013-2014 and is an opponent to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Fars News Agency claimed that Washington has sought to create a tribal army force in eastern Syria made up of 40,000 militants with billions of dollars of funding from Saudi Arabia since the war began in Syria in 2011.

Military Convoys to Eastern Syria In Recent Weeks

In a related development, the Arabic-language al-Watan Online news site pointed out that a new military convoy of 50 trucks loaded with weapons and other military logistical support arrived in areas controlled by the SDF in the Deir Ezzur district via the Simalka crossing on the Iraqi border.

Fars also reported that earlier this month, U.S. military sent “tens of trucks carrying U.S. military and logistical aids” to areas under SDF control in Eastern Euphrates. The move comes despite the fact that Washington declared last March that it had “100 percent eliminated” ISIS from Syria.

Adding to reports of movement in the region, on Monday the Syrian Observer for Human Rights (SOHR) reported, “a convoy comprising 60 trucks containing logistic and military consignments as well as prefabricated houses was sent to Eastern Euphrates via Simalka crossing in Northern Iraq.”

On May 10, SOHR also announced a batch of trucks entering SDF controlled areas in Eastern Euphrates which SOHR referred to as the 12th such batch since the announcement of the elimination of ISIS in the region.

SOHR added that 20 truckloads have arrived at the Kobani Airport and Kharab Ashk military base in northern Aleppo.

The Syrian conflict broke out in 2011 as part of the Arab Spring uprisings which saw Arab protests break out throughout the Middle East. The movements largely demanded social and economic reforms.

In Syria, the popular protests turned into an armed civil war, involving Islamist groups, rebels and opponents to Syrian President Bashar al-Asad, causing the displacement of millions of Syrians.

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Rami Almeghari

Rami Almeghari is a freelance independent writer, journalist and lecturer, based in the Gaza Strip. Rami has contributed in English to several media outlets worldwide, including print, radio and TV. He can be reached on facebook as Rami Munir Almeghari and on email as [email protected]

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