Despite the claims made by US officials that the country’s military base in Syria’s al-Tanf helps curb the activities of Daesh* terrorists, it appears that the base currently serves as an important element of Washington’s anti-Iranian agenda in the region.
As US Army Gen. Joseph Votel told NBC News, the al-Tanf garrison is a strategically important installation which helps Washington counter "the sway of Iran" in Syria.
"We don't have a counter Iranian mission here. We have a defeat ISIS mission," Votel claimed. "But I do recognize that our presence, our development of partners and relationships down here does have an indirect effect on some malign activities that Iran and their various proxies and surrogates would like to pursue down here."
While General Votel insisted that the primary goal US military presence in Al Tanf is to ensure that the surrounding area "does not support freedom of movement" for Daesh, he also claimed that it has "some kind of indirect effect" on Iran’s alleged activities in Syria.
Tehran however has repeatedly insisted that Iran has limited its assistance to Syria in the fight against Islamist extremists to the provision of military advisers, and that no regular Iranian forces are present on Syrian territory.
The US military currently occupies a 34-mile zone around its base in al-Tanf, where it has been training Syrian opposition forces since 2016.
The base has become the subject of criticism as Damascus and Moscow have expressed concerns that Washington was "spewing Daesh mobile groups who make inroads to launch subversive terrorist operations against Syrian troops and civilians."
Damascis has repeatedly denounced the US military presence on Syrian soil as illegal, demanding that the American forces leave the country and withdraw from the al-Tanf base.
*Daesh, also known as Islamic State ISIS or ISIL is a terror group, banned in the United States, Russia and many other countries.