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  • Anti-Daesh coalition to set up military base along Turkish-Syrian border

Anti-Daesh coalition to set up military base along Turkish-Syrian border

A convoy of US military vehicles drive through the Syrian northeastern town of Qahtaniyah on the border with Turkey. (AFP/File)
A convoy of US military vehicles drive through the Syrian northeastern town of Qahtaniyah on the border with Turkey. (AFP/File)
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17 Feb 2021 11:02:36 GMT9
17 Feb 2021 11:02:36 GMT9
  • The base will be located in the Ain Dewar area of Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah

Menekse Tokyay

ANKARA: The US-led anti-Daesh coalition is to establish a new military base along the Turkish-Syrian border to weed out any remnants of the terror organization — a key Middle East policy priority of American President Joe Biden’s administration.

The base will be located in the Ain Dewar area of Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah.

Last month, Russian military police were deployed near a highway used by the US in Ain Dewar village, north of the city of Derik, to send logistic and military enhancements to its bases in Iraq.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the arrival of the new convoy of the coalition, with more than 50 vehicles and trucks, to the Syrian territory last week.

The military convoy, carrying armored vehicles, logistical equipment, and weapons was reportedly seen crossing into northeastern Syria from the Kurdistan Regional Government-ruled area of northern Iraq.

The potential local cooperation with the Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the fight against Daesh is expected to draw anger from Ankara as it considers the group a terror organization due to its links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The US announced the formation of a broad international coalition to defeat Daesh in September 2014, and Turkey began taking part in the coalition the following year by opening its southern Incirlik airbase to coalition forces.

Nicholas Heras, director of government relations at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, said the location of a new base at Ain Dewar was a logical move if the US intended to have a long-term presence in northeast Syria.

“The base would be located near the most important entry point into northeast Syria from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which is where most of the ground lines of resupply and reinforcement for the counter-Daesh campaign enter Syria,” he told Arab News.

Heras noted that the Americans could also potentially deploy air assets, such as drones, from the base, which would be useful for reconnaissance and for targeting remaining senior Daesh leaders.

“However, Ain Dewar is a forward operating base, it is not a base with the scale, facilities, and permanence of Incirlik,” he added.

“Incirlik is a major facility that has been an important part of NATO planning for more than half a century. The purpose of Incirlik is strategic, to support NATO operations against a great power rival, especially Russia.”

Heras pointed out that the Ain Dewar base was meant to support a specific campaign in a specific theater, a counterterrorism campaign in northeast Syria against Daesh.

“Incirlik is not necessary to reinforce Ain Dewar, which would likely be reinforced from the Erbil airport base,” he said.

Navvar Saban, a military analyst from the Istanbul-based Omran Center for Strategic Studies, told Arab News that the new base was a must for the US strategy in the region.

“Following the withdrawal of several American troops, the US presence was being challenged by pro-Iranian militia and Daesh which were carrying out attacks. Therefore, it was a strategy to secure the area from the attack of terror groups,” he said.

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