Reinforcements from the Syrian Arab Army, the National Defense Forces, and Iraqi PMU-affiliated militias continue to pour from all across Syria to east Suweida and Eastern Qalamoun ahead of an anticipated massive offensive aimed at recapturing the Tanf Border Crossing which lies a 100 km from the recently-captured Zaza Checkpoint along the Damascus-Baghdad Highway.
The Tanf Border Crossing that links the Abbasid capital Baghdad to the Omayyad capital Damascus fell to Islamic State terrorists in the early summer of 2015 as exhausted government troops abandoned large swathes of eastern Homs and eastern Hama to focus on more pressing fronts in Dara’a, Damascus, and Idlib (which had witnessed the loss of the government’s last stronghold of Jisr Al-Shughour at around the same time).
Though the border crossing was under government control until mid-2015, it had been rendered inoperable as Islamist insurgents dominated the Iraqi side of the Badiyah a year earlier, cutting the vital route that linked Baghdad to Damascus. Currently, US-backed “Commandos of the Revolution” and “Jaish al-Asha’ir” control much of the region between Bir Qassab in east Suweida and the Deir Ezzor provincial boundary including the imperative border crossing.
Frantic about the prospects of US-backed forces establishing foothold along the Euphrates near Mayadeen and Al-Bukamal and eager to reopen the commercial routes to Iraq’s vibrant markets, Damascus made re-opening the strategic highway its utmost priority.
Opening the aforementioned highway would not only link the embattled government to its allies within Iraq, but would also establish a viable land route to Iran, where the impoverished country gets much of the military and financial support that has enabled it to withstand 6 years of attrition and brutal warfare in face of complete economic and political isolation due to merciless sanctions targeting every sector of the Syrian economy including the medical and public service sectors.