The announcement of an American air base being established in Northeast Syria comes with little surprise on the heels of a separate announcement for additional US troops being sent to Syria and Iraq. With the planned battle for retaking Mosul (Iraq) and other combat operations in the region, it will be a very important strategic asset.
As a result of the commitment of the air base, much of the doubt about American commitment to additional boots on the ground has been removed. An unnamed source contacted by SOFREP, and that is close to one of the deployed units, has reported that there are more military units (non-special operations) in Iraq and Syria than are being reported. Things appear to be ramping up, and apparently faster than the public is aware.
Beirut (AFP) – US special forces and experts are setting up an airbase in northeast Syria as part of the battle against the Islamic State group, Syrian military and security sources said Saturday.
They told AFP work was underway to expand an airfield in Rmeilan, in Hasakeh province, from where aircraft used to take off to spray pesticides on crops before Syria’s war started five years ago.
A Syrian military source said nearly 100 “American experts,” alongside forces from the anti-IS Kurdish People’s Protection Units had widened the landing strip and refurbished some infrastructure.
“The airbase will be used for helicopters and cargo planes. Its strip is now 2,700 metres (yards) long and is ready to be used by planes that will transport equipment and ammunition,” the source added.
The Pentagon did not confirm the reports but said the US military had not taken control of any airfield in Syria.
“There has been no change to the size of mission of the US presence in Syria,” added US Central Command spokesman Colonel Pat Ryder.
“That being said, US forces in Syria are consistently looking at ways to increase efficiency for logistics and personnel recovery support,” he said.
At the end of October, US President Barack Obama authorised the deployment of up to 50 special operations troops to Syria to advise local ground forces battling IS.
The military source told AFP that US forces have been working on the Rmeilan airfield “for more than three months.”