US Deploys Advanced Rocket System for 1st Time

14 June 2017 – The US military has moved a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System from Jordan into eastern Syria for the first time, providing more protection for the Free Syrian Army base at Tanf near the Jordanian and Iraqi borders. The US has declared a 55-km (34-mile) exclusion zone around Tanf, where US special forces are present, to deter a pro-Assad offensive. On three occasions, US warplanes have bombed convoys that included Hezbollah fighters and Iranian-supported Iraqi militia.

HIMARS is a truck-mounted system which can fire missiles as far as 300 km (185 miles). It has also been deployed in northern Syria in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces against the Islamic State, as well as in Iraq.

The possibility of a confrontation between pro-Assad forces and the US-backed FSA has risen this spring with advances by both sides against a retreating ISIS. While the US has restrained the FSA from any attack on pro-Assad units, Washington is concerned about the establishment of a ground route for Iranian weapons supplies into Syria.