U.S. military has deployed two M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) truck-mounted, long-range rocket launchers from Jordan to Tanf in southern Syria.
Close to Jordanian and Iraqi borders, Al-Tanf is the location of a remote base where US-led coalition forces are supporting Syrian rebel groups that have clashed with pro-government forces advancing into the area since May. It is near a Syria-Iraq border crossing on the main Baghdad-Damascus highway.
The rebels took it from Islamic State (IS) last year, partly to stop Iran from using it to send arms to the Bashar Assad government.The rebels also want to use it to take more territory along the border and to push toward Deir al-Zor, a large city on the Euphrates where the government has an enclave surrounded by Islamic State fighters.
“They have arrived now in Tanf and they are a significant boost to the U.S. military presence there,” one senior intelligence source said, without elaborating. The HIMARS had already been deployed in northern Syria with U.S.-backed forces battling Islamic State militants, he added.
US had deployed the rocket system near the Turkish border to strike at Islamic State facilities. They were also used several times from the Jordanian border to hit militants in the desert in southeastern Syria.
Under heavy pressure, the militants have mostly retreated from the desert in the last three months. Now U.S. backed Syrian rebels are competing with the Syrian army and Iranian-backed militias as they all try to recapture territory from Islamic State.
About HIMARS :
M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is a U.S. light multiple rocket launcher mounted on a truck frame.
The HIMARS carries six rockets or one MGM-140 ATACMS tactical missile on a five-ton truck and can launch several types of MLRS munitions.
The launcher is transportable in a C-130 Hercules tactical transport aircraft. The chassis is produced by BAE Systems and the rocket launching system is produced by Lockheed Martin.