(Zaman Al Wasl)- Foreign presence on the Syrian soil has always been the focus of media and research institutions. In this study, prepared by a specialized military researcher, we examine the changes that occurred with the existence of these bases, since late 2017 when Zaman al-Wasl last published a comprehensive study.
Over the past two years, 2018-2019, US bases (coalition forces) and other forces in Syria have undergone significant changes in one of the following areas:
Establishing new bases that did not exist before.
Expanding and consolidating some older bases.
Definitive evacuation of certain bases.
Moving some bases to different areas.
This report includes details of developments in the US bases in northern Syria, and in the area currently controlled by the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia, in light of Turkey’s desire to establish a safe zone within the Syrian border extending for tens of kilometers.
Turkey's urgent desire to establish a safe zone within Syrian borders will be hampered by the positions of these bases, some of which are only a few kilometers from the border, some of which have been built relatively recently.
Therefore the American promise to Turkey to cooperate in establishing such an area is merely a political exercise to buy time.
In fact, these bases reveal that America is preparing for a long-term stay in Syria, and will not leave in the near future, as President Donald Trump claimed recently.
It is worth mentioning that some of the new bases are not bases in the military sense, but more like "civil administration" centers.
Most of the major oil and gas fields currently have small bases of up to 50 US troops securing them.
The Locations of American Bases:
New Heemo base west of Qamishli city:
This base is located west of the city of Qamishli near the village of Heemo, 4 Km away from the Turkish border and 5 Km (3 miles) away from Al Qamishli airport, where the regime forces are based.
It is mainly concerned with the administration of the area, which is completely controlled by the Kurds and has a predominantly civil organizational nature of the Kurdish state to be established. The task of this huge base is to provide all kinds of administrative and technical support to the Syrian Democratic Forces and its civilian administration.
It was established in 2018, slowly expanding, with warehouses and other sub-centers close to the area.
New constructions inside the US Tal Baydar base:
US forces are currently constructing and expanding new facilities inside the US base at Tal Baydar, including the expansion of the old airstrip to about 900m. Construction is still going on at the moment, and at this length the runway is sufficient for the landing of all types of cargo aircrafts and various warplanes. This base is 30 kilometers from the Turkish border.
New Jabal (Mount) Al Ghoul Base:
A relatively new base, which was completed in 2018, includes an airstrip and a support camp, as well as being a logistical headquarters. It is the most secretive base, both in terms of the size of the troops and the function assigned to them. The runway is 1,800 meters long, the base is semi-fixed, 30 km from the Turkish border.
New base in Khabur west of Hasaka (as a replacement to Life Stone Resort base):
Troops were relocated west of Hasaka, where the airbase at the Life Stone resort was evacuated from aircraft and helicopters, while some ground troops remained.
A new base was established to the south, near the Khabur Dam. This new base contains ground and air support forces, in addition to a number of support and landing helicopters.
One of the largest American bases in Syria, established by the US army forces after the expulsion of the Daesh (ISIS) from the town of Shadadi, and is a focal point for the US strike forces there. It includes a camp for Marines as well as an airbase of eight attack helicopters, in addition to being a logistics base for US troops and Kurdish forces operating there. The base extends for four kilometers and two kilometers in width.
The Americans have deliberately set up the base near the most important oil fields in the region, the field of Al Jabsa and Kubaiba field.
A major alteration of the shared base in Lafarge Cement Factory:
This year, Coalition forces have significantly expanded the base at Lafarge Cement Plant, which is currently the largest base for US and Coalition forces in military and logistical terms, with eight US helicopters and six French helicopters in the base, forming a large strike force.
Some call it Kharab Ashiq base in reference to the nearby village, only 20 km from the Turkish border.
Significant expansion of the logistics base at Ain Issa:
Since the beginning of this year, the Americans have expanded the base of Ain Issa over a very large area. The base is dedicated to logistical support and various logistics operations, affiliated with several separate and spaced centers surrounding it as ammunition and logistics depots.
Mobilizing additional forces at Tal al-Saman base north of Raqqa:
Tal al-Saman base is located north of Raqqa and was established in 2017. It contains a helipad for warplanes and fixed-wing transport aircrafts, in addition to being a large military base with the US forces recently transferring a large number of ground forces and armored vehicles. The base is also a center for surveillance, spying and jamming.
Herqla base west of Raqqa:
It was expanded over the past year to become a US military base. It is more of a civil administration for the administrative work of the Kurdish forces supervised by US forces.
New Bersan base southwest of Mahmudli town:
Established in 2018 and located south of the town of Bersan, north of Tabqa. It is a headquarters for the US artillery forces, in addition to being a logistics center for the forces deployed near that area.
Expansion of the base near al-Hakko village:
The base is one of the largest US bases in Syrian, located north of the town of Sarrin, and contains a landing pad for fixed-wing aircrafts. It includes a camp for ground forces and landing and support forces, in addition to logistics headquarters.
Several warehouses affiliated with the base were recently built outside the base, inside the villages and towns surrounding the area.
New base southwest of Manbij:
Once a very small base, but in the light of tension and friction in the region between different parties (Kurds - regime - Turkey - Iran), US forces expanded it significantly to support the Kurdish forces, block the road on all sides, and resolve the conflict in favor of the Kurds. It was established Southwest of Manbij near the main road between Al Bab and Manbij.
This base is about 28 km from the Turkish border.
New US base north of Manbij (Al-Dadat):
Located north of Manbij, about 9 km near the town of Dadat, has been expanded significantly over the past two years, 17 km away from the Turkish border. In April 2019, it was supplied with an air balloon for surveillance.
In addition to the above, there are several American bases that are relatively smaller in scale:
Al-Tanf Base: a joint British and US base located on the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi border triangle.
Abu Hajar Heliport near Rumailan: for the protection of the Rumailan fields.
Kharab Al-Jir landing pad near Malikiyah in the far northeast.
US bases with small forces with around 50 US soldiers in each base (Malikiyah - Ain al-Arab, and Tal Abyad and others).
US Marines inside SDF camps for training, planning and supervision.
US forces inside Koniko gas factory near Deir Ezzor
Small forces in the Omar field.
Al - Mabrouka Base: Near the Turkish border, a small base comprising only about 100 US soldiers.
Eight years of war in Syria have killed 560,000 people and driven half the pre-war population of 22 million from their homes, including more than 6 million as refugees to neighbouring countries.
By Editor-in-Chief Fathi Bayoud
Zaman Al Wasl-Fathi Bayoud