Syrian regime digging trenches near US-led coalition base: council
The Palmyra and Syria Badia (desert) Tribes Council said in a statement that the regime was digging trenches and building mounds of earth in the area around the base in the Syrian Desert, adding that diggers were seen near the villages of Al-Khirbeh and Al-Dali.
The council said the regime plans to plant mines around the excavated areas, "which has dangerous consequences for the area and the refugees trapped there."
By late 2017, Arab media began calling the "deconfliction area" around the Al-Tanf base "the 55 km area", as it composed of a half-circle area with a radius of 55 km with the base at its centre.
The base has been attacked numerous times throughout Syria's conflict.
Head of the council Maher al-Ali told The New Arab’s sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, that the regime was digging the trenches under the pretext that it was subjected to attacks from inside the "55 km area", which sits close to where Jordan and Iraq’s borders meet with Syria.
Other excuses include smuggling operations in the area to regions under the control of the Islamic State group, he said.
IS once controlled large swathes of territory, particularly in eastern Syria. It continues to carry out attacks in the country.
Al-Ali said the trench "poses a great risk to the residents of the 55 km area", including those in the Al-Rukban camp for displaced Syrians.
The camp has been under siege for years, preventing residents who fear returning to their homes in Syrian regime-held territory from receiving much-needed food and healthcare.
Jordan announced that it would stop allowing any aid to enter the camp from its territory in 2016, citing security threats, but it last month sent a shipment of goods to the camp.
Concurrently, the Syrian regime imposed a siege on the camp from its end and prevented any goods from entering.