A spokesperson for the U.S.-led Coalition on Friday, October 6 denied reports that its aircraft struck a regime convoy in southern Syria, and confirmed that regime convoys entered the At Tanf deconfliction zone on consecutive days.
The spokesperson was responding to allegations that it had struck a convoy that entered the deconfliction zone on Thursday. Coalition special forces are training the sole remaining Vetted Syrian Opposition force, Jaysh Maghawir Al-Thawra (MaT) in the At Tanf area. The deconfliction zone is surrounded on three sides by pro-regime forces, while the fourth is the border with Iraq and Jordan.
Syrian media outlet Step News claimed on Thursday that senior MaT military commander Abo Al-Atheer Al-Khabouri said in a statement that a convoy of Syrian government forces and allies including four tanks, five BMP vehicles and eight pickup trucks tried to advance towards a camp near At Tanf and “was dealt with by aircraft” on Thursday morning, resulting in damage to several vehicles.
Also on Thursday, the Al Dorar news site tweeted that sources had said that the “international coalition targeted a convoy of Syrian forces west of al-Tanf base,” destroying a number of vehicles, seemingly confirming the Step News story.
“The Coalition did not strike the 6 vehicle convoy which entered the deconfliction zone near At Tanf,” the Coalition spokesperson said in an email to The Defense Post. “This convoy entered and left the zone without need for deconfliction with Russian forces or strikes.”
The Coalition statement appears to confirm a Thursday Facebook post on MaT’s official page which said: “Once again, regime forces went beyond the administrative borders of the al-Tanf camp from the direction of the Damascus-Baghdad road and were confronted with all force.” The statement added that the regime convoy had left and was 10 km “outside the administrative border area.”
Two incidents in two days
Thursday’s regime advance into the deconfliction zone was the second in as many days. On Wednesday, MaT on Facebook said that “in cooperation with coalition forces” it had “confronted and expelled regime forces” from the deconfliction zone.
The Coalition spokesperson confirmed that another “small convoy also briefly entered the deconfliction zone” on Wednesday, and that the deconfliction line was employed during that incident.
“The counter ISIS deconfliction line was used to establish communication with Russian forces to deter this incursion,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson was unable to confirm that the same convoy entered the deconfliction zone on both days.
On June 6, Coalition aircraft struck and destroyed regime forces which had entered At Tanf deconfliction zone. Two days later Coalition aircraft shot down a pro-regime drone after it dropped at least one munition near Coalition partner forces. On June 20, a second drone was shot down.