2019: Last U.S. Base in Syria Is Everything Wrong With Trump’s War 2019: Last U.S. Base in Syria Is Everything Wrong With Trump’s War - ImagesGram

2019: Last U.S. Base in Syria Is Everything Wrong With Trump’s War


In the southeastern Syrian desert, near the Jordan and Iraq borders, far from the ruins of the Caliphate or the carnage of the Turkish invasion, lies the terminal phase of a U.S. war.

A dusty garrison outpost called al-Tanf, or sometimes at-Tanf, is now the last redoubt for the American forces in Syria that have occupied it since 2016. It has little to do with the war against the so-called Islamic State, the ostensible purpose of the U.S. in Syria, and far more to do with a confrontation against an entirely different adversary: Iran.

In a coda for the war, the missions U.S. forces can execute from al-Tanf are unclear. Along with a proxy force the U.S. has trained for years at al-Tanf, the Syrian Arab Magahwir al-Thawra, the U.S. occasionally intercepts ISIS fighters. But officials familiar with the area note that the base is far from where the bulk of ISIS is.

“Al-Tanf grew as a sop to Jordan, grew because Donald Trump delegated authorities to ground commanders, and was repurposed as an anti-Iran thing, despite the very real fact that Iranian aircraft fly over it on a routine basis,” said Aaron Stein, director of the Middle East program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.