Some of the ambiguity and mystery surrounding the nature of President-elect Donald Trump’s relations with Russia’s Vladimir Putin may disperse after the new US president takes office Thursday, Jan. 20, because one of their first joint military actions is ready to go.
DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources disclose exclusively that a combined US, Russian, Syrian and Jordanian force is preparing for a major operation to liberate the Syrian heritage town of Palmyra from the Islamic State.
Its capture by this allied force would have important ramifications: It would isolate the ISIS forces dug in in northern and central Syria and disconnect them from the jihadists who control extensive areas in the east and the south, including the Euphrates Valley which runs from Syria to Iraq.
From Palmyra, the key offensive for ousting ISIS from its Syrian capital, Raqqa, would move a sep closer. The Islamic State would also be distanced fromdirectly menacing Jordan’s borders with Syria and Iraq.
This menace came closer last week when ISIS commanders decided to make a grab for the eastern Syrian town of Deir ez-Zour, after they saw Syrian government forces leaving their bases in the town and heading north to Palmyra. Until then, ISIS had occupied part of the strategic town, while keeping the government-held part and the big Syrian air base nearby under siege for the past two years.
Read More: US & Russia to free Palmyra after Trump sworn in