The Iraqi-Syrian border became the focus of this conflict as the Shiite factions close to Iran, with the help of advisers and fighters from the IRGC, sought a foothold at the border to prevent the US from taking control there. The Hezbollah Brigades, which is also close to Iran and present in both Iraq and Syria, has declared its objective of preventing the United States from gaining control of the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Another military base, al-Tanf, is also involved in the controversy. US forces use the base near the Iraqi-Syrian-Jordanian border to train the Revolutionary Commando Army, a Syrian faction established in 2015 for the purpose of fighting IS.
In an Aug. 3 statement, the Hezbollah Brigades said, “After a series of tactical operations by the Islamic Resistance/Hezbollah Brigades and other factions, al-Tanf base lost its importance in carrying out the alleged American project.” It added, “The Americans and their allies have to retreat to the Jordanian border.”
In June, Iraqi Shiite factions fighting alongside Syrian regime forces were able to reach the Iraqi-Syrian border, blocking the road between al-Tanf and the areas under IS control. But the recent attack on Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades showed how tenuous the Shiite factions’ hold is, positioned in a narrow corridor north of al-Tanf with insufficient logistical support and a lack of aerial cover and artillery support in an open desert.