Syrian troops are advancing on Western special forces located in the east of the country close to Iraq border as they moved towards a training base over the weekend. Syrian army units are now within 15 miles of al-Tanf, close to the Iraq border – a heavily fortified centre for American and British special forces training Syrian rebel groups.
Tanks and surface-to-air missiles have been moved closer to the eastern frontline by Syrian forces in recent days. The region is strategically important to the Syrian government as gaining control of the road to the Tanf base would create a land link with ally Iraq in the south. The region is also important as Deir Ezzor, north of Tanf, is home to Syria’s biggest oil deposit.
British SAS troops were photographed at the heavily-fortified base at al-Tanf in 2016 and are thought to be operating alongside units from the US military, including in a training role.
The UK government refused to comment in line with its long standing policy relating to Special Forces operations.
The precise disposition and number of UK forces in unknown though they are likely to be either British Army personnel from 22 SAS or Royal Marines from the SBS – Britain’s so-called ‘Tier 1’ operators.
Other units that operate under the same ‘no comment’ umbrella include the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG), formerly the 1st Battalion of The Parachute Regiment, which supplies additional troops to SF operations and the shadowy Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), which provides expert close surveillance capabilities.