The TelegraphApril 10, 2017
British special forces pictured in Syria supporting rebels in 2016 - BBCView photos
British special forces pictured in Syria supporting rebels in 2016 - BBC
Islamic State jihadists launched a wave of suicide attacks on a British special forces training base in Syria, in one of the fiercest assaults on anti-Isil coalition forces there to date.
Fighters from Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (Isil) used a vehicle bomb to try to blow their way into the al-Tanf garrison, which has been used by SAS and US special forces to train moderate Syrian rebels.
The blast early Sunday morning was followed up with a ground attack by up to 30 Isil fighters and suicide bombers, but they were beaten back with coalition air strikes and help from Western troops.
British special forces pictured in Syria in 2016 - Credit: BBCView photos
British special forces pictured in Syria in 2016 Credit: BBC
During the fighting the Isil militants also ambushed a convoy of reinforcements from an allied rebel group, Osoud al Sharqiya, trying to relieve the base. Four rebels and eight Isil fighters were reportedly killed in the battle.
Tanf, near the Syria-Iraq-Jordan border, has been a heavily fortified training hub for American and British special forces to build Syrian rebel groups fighting the extremist jihadists.
American troops were understood to be on the outpost at the time. There was no confirmation British special forces were present, but rebel officials confirmed to the Telegraph that they used Tanf as a “mobile base”.
The Ministry of Defence said it would not comment on special forces operations.
Russia bombed the garrison in June 2016, however no injures were reported. US jets were scrambled in response, but failed to stop the aerial raid.
American and British troops are understood to be expanding the Tanf base to use it as a major launch pad to oust militants from Abu Kamal, a major supply conduit for Islamic State between its strongholds in Iraq and Syria.
In southern Syria, coalition-backed Syrian opposition forces have been instrumental in countering the Isil threat in southern Syria and maintaining security along the Syria-Jordan border.
In recent weeks, the militants in the Syrian desert near the Jordanian border have regrouped further north to reinforce their Raqqa stronghold, after major defeats in Syria and Iraq.
Recent attacks are meant to show Isil was still capable of waging hit-and-run operations against the Western-backed rebels who have recently seized a swathe of territory stretching from the town of Bir Qasab, some 30 miles southeast of Damascus, all the way to the borders with Iraq and Jordan, a desert area known as the Badia.
"Their message is we are still present in the area and have not withdrawn and we still target us,” one rebel commander said.
Western intelligence sources have worried for months that militants fleeing from their main urban strongholds of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq could find a safe haven in the region.
However, the US-backed groups operating in the area have often accused their chief backer of offering lukewarm support.
The New Syrian Army group’s first operation to retake the town of Abu Kamal in June last year went badly after Isil jihadists ambushed the fighters, killing several and taking much of their equipment.
The group blamed the Americans for not providing air cover. It later emerged that US jets were withdrawn in the middle of the battle to attack to take part in the battle of the city of Fallujah in Iraq.