"The largest American military base in Syria covers more than five hundred acres, but it can’t be seen from the road. When I visited in mid-October, on the condition that I not reveal the exact location, I thought my taxi-driver had brought me to the wrong place. All I saw were a few Kurdish soldiers standing around a barricade. But, past the checkpoint and up a hill, a vast encampment spread out before us. The perimeter was constructed of dirt berms, sod-filled gabions, and razor wire. The runway was more than a mile long, and sunk below grade, so that planes would seem to disappear as they landed. There were hastily constructed wood buildings, huge clamshell tents, stacks of shipping containers, rows of white trucks and sport-utility vehicles, prefabricated trailers housing showers and latrines, and a dusty athletics field where soldiers were jogging around a track in the desert twilight.
The American intervention in Syria, now in its fourth year, (incorrect, the intervention is in it's 7th year by my own count and likely longer still) began as a small Special Forces mission of the kind the Pentagon is currently running in a dozen countries. In the fall of 2015, when President Barack Obama deployed fifty commandos to advise the Syrian Kurds in their war with the Islamic State, his Administration denied that he was breaking his promise not to put “boots on the ground.” “We have run special ops already,” Obama said, “and, really, this is just an extension.” Since then, the number of military personnel in-country has steadily grown, first to two hundred and fifty, then to five hundred, then to two thousand, and there’s reason to believe the true figure is now twice that. (During a press briefing in October, 2017, an Army general let slip that the number was four thousand.)"I'll bet the number is still higher?
"Congress has not authorized military action in Syria, nor is there a United Nations mandate permitting the use of force. Nevertheless, over the last three years, the mission has morphed into something more like a conventional ground war.
The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.
Turkey is still a wild card, but the once-cluttered battlefield map is increasingly divided between just two coalitions: the Russia-Iran-Assad alliance, in control of two-thirds of the country, including Damascus, Aleppo, and Homs, and the American-backed S.D.F., in control of the rest, including Raqqa
But, because Operation Inherent Resolve, as the Pentagon calls its mission here, falls under the authority of the Joint Special Operations Command, known as JSOC, basic facts are kept classified, including the cost of the mission, the units involved, where they are located, and the number of wounded, which is believed to be substantial.
The belligerent talk from Washington might be a ploy to intimidate Tehran, a calculated move to turn Trump’s unpredictable nature into strategic leverage. But the Iranians appear willing to respond in kind. On October 1st, Iran fired a volley of ballistic missiles across Iraq and struck an ISIS position in Deir Ezzor, not far from American troops. It was in retaliation for a terrorist attack on an Iranian military parade, but afterward, Bolton’s counterpart, Ali Shamkhani, issued a statement to the United States: “John Bolton said we should take you seriously. The commander of our aerospace forces took you seriously and landed missiles within three miles of you.” A similar incident could give Bolton and the others a pretext to convince Trump to launch a bombing campaign on Iranian military infrastructure. If Trump strikes Iran, the American forces would be engaged in a Middle East war zone that would span four contiguous countries: Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, stretching nineteen hundred miles from Damascus to Kabul (to say nothing of Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger).
Recent Syrian news: