After destroying a Syrian military drone near the deconfliction zone around Al-Tanf and incursion of pro-Assad troops, the Pentagon has installed a missile system in the area for protection. However, the Syrian government and Russia are worried that the new missile launcher is intended for an eventual strike against pro-Assad troops.

What kind of missile system was set in place near Al-Tanf?

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis authorized the deployment of the HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) in Syria. The HIMARS is an offensive missile system that can fire missiles with a range radius of 300 km. The new missile launcher is expected to provide a defensive umbrella over the deconfliction zone around the town of Al-Tanf.

U.S. forces in Syria are not authorized to wage open war against Assad but it is allowed to put defensive measures in place against any hostile threats in the area. The constant provocations made by the Syrian army, especially now that their push into ISIS territory is successful, is a cause for concern to U.S. personnel in the area.

How will the Syrian government react to U.S. deployment of an offensive missile system?

The HIMARS was moved from Jordan to Syria in response to Assad's recent incursion near Al-Tanf. Though the Syrian government is not pursuing a heated conflict with the United States, the presence of U.S. spec ops in the area is a great hindrance for Assad's plan. American troops are in Al-Tanf to train Kurdish and Syrian fighters of the SDF (syrian democratic forces) to attack Raqqa and push ISIS out of Eastern Syria.

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Many pro-Assad officials question the deployment of the HIMARS, which is located far from Raqqa. Because of this, Syrian forces are worried that America can easily attack pro-Assad troops whenever they want. However, U.S. officials are adamant that despite the offensive nature of the new missile system it is mainly intended for defensive purposes only.

On June 8th, the United States attacked a convoy of Syrian and Iranian soldiers entering the area near Al-Tank killing almost a dozen men. The attack was condemned by Russia calling it "uncalled for." The situation in Syria is growing tense even though ISIS is slowly being pushed out of the country. After the capture of Raqqa and the area surrounding the city, United States-backed forces will have to defend against pro-Assad troops bent on unifying the country under their oppressive rule.