A large convoy of U.S. military personnel headed into Syria on Thursday along with hundreds of troops some 24 hours after President Joe Biden took office and took on his commander-in-chief role, foreign media reported.
Citing Syrian state news agency SANA, i24 News reported that a convoy of about 40 trucks and armored vehicles “entered northeastern Syria” on Thursday supported by helicopters.
The convoy entered the country from Iraq via the al-Waleed crossing “to bring arms and logistical equipment to bases in Hasakeh and Deir Ezzor provinces,” i23 News stated.
And while “other local media” noted that such resupply convoys are not uncommon, SANA’s report added that an additional 200 U.S. troops were choppered into the Hasakeh province as well.
The report claimed that the additional troops will deploy to protect nearby oilfields on land that buttresses Kurdish-controlled territory in eastern Syria that is also said to be rich in energy resources.
“The US-led coalition has been working closely with the Kurds during the campaign against the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria, with Kurdish forces often working as ground coordinators for coalition jets during airstrikes,” i24 News reported.
Late last year, former President Donald Trump ordered U.S. forces in the area withdrawn to neighboring Iraq.
Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes fired a number of missiles in central Syria, The Associated Press reported, citing state media which claimed the attack killed a family of four including two children. State media also claimed that most of the missiles were downed by Syrian air defenses.
A Syrian military official told SANA that the strike was aimed at a number of targets in and around the central province of Hama. Israel has hundreds of sorties against targets in Syria over the years that were linked to Iran.
The AP noted that the Israeli strike was the country’s first since Biden took over as president.
For the duration of his four-year term, Trump attempted to withdraw American troops from decades-long conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and, more recently, Syria.
But he reportedly got constant push-back from his defense and national security advisers and Cabinet members, leading to the sacking or resignation of several.
In September, then-Democratic presidential nominee Biden claimed he wanted to draw down troop levels but added he would not withdraw U.S. forces completely.
“These ‘forever wars’ have to end. I support drawing down the troops. But here’s the problem, we still have to worry about terrorism and [the Islamic State],” he said in an interview at the time.
He said he supported a “small U.S. military footprint” where the troops’ primary mission would be to engage in or facilitate special operations against ISIS and other terrorist groups, according to Stars & Stripes.
On Wednesday, the day Biden was inaugurated, the Syrian government sent him a message imploring him to withdraw American forces from the country.
Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria’s UN ambassador, criticized U.S. actions in the country during a virtual session of the Security Council as his country’s civil war approached its 10th anniversary.
“The American occupation forces continue to plunder Syria’s wealth of oil, gas, and agricultural crops, burning and destroying what it cannot steal,” he said.
“The new U.S. administration must stop acts of aggression and occupation, plundering the wealth of my country, withdraw its occupying forces from it, and stop supporting separatist militias, illegal entities, and attempts to threaten Syria’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity,” he added.
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