The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq is planning on establishing a “ground force” composed of Syrian rebels led by Ahmad al-Jarba, the leader of al-Qad Movement, to “occupy” eastern Syria, warns Fars News Agency, an Iranian outlet affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.). Quoting “sources on the ground” from the Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV channel, the Fars report says the coalition has transferred “a variety of weapons and ammunitions” from the of twon of Rimelan in al-Hasakah Governorate in northeastern Syria to town of al-Shaddadi in the southern part of the province. Fars also quotes Syrian officials as saying that the U.S.-led coalition had already stationed a number of its commanders in southern parts of al-Shaddadi. “The U.S. objective of this measure is to occupy southern front of al-Hasakah and eastern parts of Deir Ezzor,” the reported adds. The report also claims that the U.S.-led coalition has conducted air strikes in Deir Ezzor in the past two days, and emphasized that the aim of the strikes is “to gain a foothold in the east of this country.”  

Another Fars report published today says the Syrian pro-regime forces intensified attacks against the Islamic State defense lines in Deir Ezzor on Wednesday, killing many terrorists including foreign fighters. Much of the fighting reportedly occurred in the neighborhoods of al-Huweiqa and al-roshidiyeh and around Deir Ezzor airbase. Quoting sources in Arab-language media, the report adds that 200 U.S. soldiers and 100 Free Syrian Army fighters have arrived in al-Shaddadi over the past five days. It added that forces affiliated with the Syrian al-Qad Movement are set to join the newly-formed forces in al-Shaddadi to participate in joint operation in Deir Ezzor. According to Fars, the Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.) have refused to cooperate with al-Jarba forces despite the fact that both are supported by the U.S.-led coalition.

Comment: Officials from Jaish Maghawir al-Thawra (MaT), a Syrian rebel group aided by the United States and its allies, have also claimed recently that the group is in talks with Pentagon to relocate some of its fighters form southern Syria to the northeast to fight the Islamic State in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor Province. "We are trying to form a national army with other rebel groups in al-Shaddadi and our aim is to head towards Deir ez-Zor," Rabee Hamidi, the spokesman of the MaT rebel group, told VOA.

Since the U.S.-backed rebels have been cut off from Deir Ezzor by the Syrian Army and Iranian-backed militia forces, any Free Syrian Army fighters most probably will need to be transferred by helicopters. The U.S. military has not confirmed or denied the report.

The Assad regime and its Iranian and Russian allies are currently focusing to seize the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region. For Iran, Deir Ezzor provides another route to complete its plan for a land bridge to the Mediterranean through Iraq and Syria. The region is also significant for the United States as it is currently a hub for Islamic State fighters. Many Islamic fighters fleeing Iraq and Raqqa are also expected to make Deir Ezzor their new headquarters.