On Thursday an anti-Assad group in Syria’s south confirmed to Reuters via its ‘rebel’ commander that it is conducting rare military exercises with American forces in order to “send a strong message to Russia and Iran that the Americans and the rebels intend to stay and confront any threats to their presence,” according to a new Reuters report.

The anti-Assad commander, Colonel Muhanad al Talaa, is part of the Pentagon-backed Maghawir al Thawra group now conducting eight days of “live-fire and ground assault” drills that involve “hundreds” of U.S. troops and allied Syrian insurgents cooperating together. 

Official US defense media accounts released new photos showing the drills near At Tanf in action. via CENTCOM

“These exercises have a big importance and have beefed up the defenses of the area and raised the combat capabilities and morale and that of civilians in the area,” Talaa said in a statement from Tanf.

The US appears to be responding to the major Russian naval and amphibious assault…

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