An Israeli military intelligence website reported on Wednesday that U.S. troops are about to be deployed into northeast Syria in order to prevent Russia from being the only dominant military presence.
Debka File published and exclusive report indicating that competition between the U.S. and Russia for strategic military positions in Syria is heating up.
“While substantial US forces were indeed withdrawn from their Syrian bases to Iraq with masses of equipment, US troop reinforcements have been pouring in and continue to arrive in northeastern Syria. Not only were existing bases not abandoned, but new positions are being set up, including one or more new US air bases. US forces are moreover taking over Syria’s oil and gas fields after the SDF moved in.
Russian forces, whose objectives in Syria hitherto were confined to a naval base at Tartus and a big airbase at Khmeimim near Latakia, have suddenly decided to establish military and military footholds in the north as a counterweight to US military hubs in the Gulf and Iraq.”
A similar report by Debka this week stated that Russia deactivated the S-400 anti-air system stationed at the Khmeimim Air Base in Syria. If true, this would free up the skies for other countries including Israel and the U.S. to run air-operations in the region. Russia has been the most dominant military presence in the region since it first arrived on the scene in 2015 in support of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
This report paints a picture that is even grimmer than the Cold War in which the U.S. and the former Soviet Union never experienced a direct confrontation but waged countless proxy wars around the globe. The war against the Islamic State (ISIS) and other terrorist factions has brought the militaries of several countries into close proximity in Syria. Though no incidents have taken place involving the U.S. led coalition, in 2015, a Turkish F-15 shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M attack aircraft. The Turkish government claimed the Russian warplane had strayed into their airspace and matters were complicated by Turkey being a NATO member. Russia responded with harsh economic sanctions until Turkey officially apologized the next year.
Another military mishap took place in 2018 when Syrian antiaircraft fire downed a Russian military plane after an Israeli attack on Syrian positions, killing 15 people on board. Russia blamed Israel for the incident.