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The US military has reinforced its troops, supposedly mostly withdrawn from Syria, with a new batch of military equipment, this time M2A2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles.
In an official comment released on September 18, the US-led coalition said that mechanized infantry assets, including Bradley IFVs, were positioned to Syria in order to “ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS”, “ensure the protection of Coalition forces” and “provide the rapid flexibility needed to protect critical petroleum resources”.
The M2A2 Bradley is armed with a 25 mm chain gun, a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun and a dual TOW anti-tank guided missile launcher. This makes the IFV the heaviest weapon deployed by the US on the ground in Syria.
As of September 21, the newly deployed armoured vehicles were already spotted during a coalition patrol in al-Hasakah province, where the US has a network of fortified positions and military bases. US forces regularly conduct patrols in the area. Another area of US interest in Syria’s northeast are the Omar oil fields on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. Washington reinforced its troops deployed there with M2A2 Bradley IFVs in October 2019.
The main difference is that, according to local sources, the vehicles deployed in al-Hasakah province will most likely be involved in patrols in the area and thus regular confrontations with the Russian Military Police and the Syrian Army.
Just a few days ago, Russian attack helicopters chased US Apaches after they had tried to harass a Russian Military Police patrol. Earlier, the US military claimed that US troops sustained “mild injures”, when a Russian vehicle rammed a US MRAP in the al-Hasakah countryside.
The US-led coalition regularly tries to limit the freedom of movement of Russian and Syrian forces in the northeast of the country and faces an asymmetric response. Now, US forces will have an additional argument in securing what they see as their sphere of influence.
Syrian government forces have suffered even more casualties from ISIS attacks in the provinces of Homs and Deir Ezzor. On September 19, at least five members of Liwa al-Quds, a pro-government Palestinian militia, died in an explosion of an improvised explosive device near the town of al-Shumaytiyah. On September 20, an explosion hit a vehicle of the Syrian Army near al-Mayadin reportedly injuring several soldiers. Also, a field commander of the National Defense Forces was killed in clashes with ISIS terrorists west of Deir Ezzor.
As of September 21, the Syrian Army, Liwa al-Quds and their allies continue a combing operation to clear the Homs-Deir Ezzor desert from ISIS cells. However, the strong ISIS presence is still a notable threat for the security situation in the central Syrian desert.
In Greater Idlib, the Russian Aerospace Forces continue their air campaign targeting training camps, weapon depots, HQs and fortified positions of Turkish-backed terrorist groups. The interesting fact is that with the resumption of active Russian strikes on targets across Idlib, terrorists have decreased the number of attacks on the Syrian Army and civilian targets along the contact line. It would appear that the airstrike diplomacy has all chances to become an integral part of the Idlib ceasefire.