Marines Launch Air Assault into Syria in 'Strong Message' to Russia

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The garrison has served as a launchpad for U.S. counter-Islamic State operations and a U.S. Special Operations Forces training facility for Syrian fighters aiding in that effort.

Russia informed the United States on September 1 via the deconfliction line that Russian, Syrian, and other pro-regime forces meant to enter the At Tanf deconfliction zone to pursue ISIS terrorists, CENTCOM spokesman Lt. Col. Earl Brown told Business Insider on Friday, confirming an earlier report from CNN.

Turkey, which has a small military presence in observation posts it has erected along the frontlines between rebels and government forces, reiterated its warnings against an offensive.

"The United States does not seek to fight the Russians, the government of Syria or any groups that may be providing support to Syria in the Syrian civil war", Brown told BI, "However, the United States will not hesitate to use necessary and proportionate force to defend U.S., coalition or partner forces, as we have clearly demonstrated in past instances". "Any claim that the harboring or assisting ISIS is grossly inaccurate".

Its president, Tayyip Erdogan, was quoted by a Turkish newspaper saying an attack on Idlib would be "a serious massacre" and he hoped for a positive outcome from a summit with Russian and Iranian leaders on the matter on Friday.

The area is home to three million people, including hundreds of thousands of civilians living among rebel fighters including thousands with ties to al-Qaeda.

The US warned Russian Federation that it would defend itself if attacked. "Don't let that happen!"

The Syrian military shelled the last stronghold of active rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday as a war monitor said insurgents blew up another bridge in anticipation of a government offensive.

Pentagon officials said that Russia's threat to carry out precision strikes suggested it might be contemplating use of airstrikes, missiles, long-range artillery or bombardment from Russian naval vessels in the Mediterranean against Tanf.

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"The atrocities committed by Assad will be a permanent stain on history and a black mark for this council which was blocked over and over by Russian Federation from taking action to help", she added.

"Our forces will demonstrate the capability to deploy rapidly, assault a target with integrated air and ground forces, and conduct a rapid exfiltration anywhere in the OIR combined joint operations area", Navy Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for Central Command, said in a statement, using the acronym for the anti-ISIS mission, Operation Inherent Resolve.

A threat some took as going beyond ISIS but to Moscow.

There is concern the Russians could use aircraft or their naval warships in the eastern Mediterranean to launch a missile attack against what they say are militants, sparking a confrontation that could inadvertently draw in USA forces if Russian targeting is not precise.

"The Russians agreed to a [34 mile] "deconfliction zone" around the At Tanf garrison to avoid accidental conflict between our forces, and to remain professionally engaged through de-confliction channels".

United States officials said they haven't detected Russian ground forces in the past few days.

"The United States does not seek to fight the Russians, the government of Syria or any groups that may be providing support to Syria in the Syrian civil war", said Lt. Col. Earl Brown, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

The Russian provocations were not limited to Syria.