Armed group of 28 US-backed militants surrender to the Syrian army

PALMYRA, (ST)- An armed group of 28 US-backed militants operating in al-Tanf area near the borders shared by Syria, Iraq and Jordan, have surrendered themselves as well as their weapons and vehicles to the Syrian Arab army, benefitting from the issued amnesty decrees.

The gunmen decided to flee the US-occupied al-Tanf area and turn themselves in to the army after losing confidence in other radical groups positioned in that area.

  Following 4 months of planning and coordination, the Syrian authorities secured the departure of 28 gunmen plus six drivers, affiliated to the so-called "Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra", a US-backed armed group, from al-Tanf area to the government-controlled city of Palmyra where they surrendered themselves and their weapons to the Syrian army, a source from the Syrian authorities told SANA reporter.

The source said that the militants also surrendered their weapons including 8 cars and pickups, some of which are equipped with heavy machineguns, in addition to sniper rifles, different machineguns, US-made M16 rifles, Russian rifles, RPGs, grenade launchers, night goggles, various communication devices and different types of ammunition.

According to the source, similar surrender operation had been carried out before, but this one is the biggest in terms of the number of gunmen, ammunition, weapons and vehicles.

In a statement to SANA, leader of the armed group Ghannam Samir al-Khudeir, known as Abu Hamza, said that he and his fellow militants had been displaced by Daesh terror organization from an area in the east of Sweidaa province to Daraa from where they entered Jordan in coordination with leader of the so-called "Ahrar al-Ashayer" group. "There, we received a month-long training and then we were sent to al-Rukban camp where we discovered that most of the weapons and relief aid and supplies were being sold to Daesh, and after joining "Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra" we discovered that this group also supports Daesh, thus, we lost confidence in all the groups and decided to turn ourselves in to the Syrian Army."

Al-Khudeir made it clear that there are many other armed groups in al-Tanf who "are willing to flee to government-controlled areas, but they are waiting for suitable circumstances to do that."

He pointed out that members of his group were attacked by another US-backed radical group while fleeing to a territory controlled by the Syrian army.

On his part, Khaled Samir al-Khudeir, a leader of a reconnaissance group, said that several groups equipped with sophisticated weapons and drones have been trained under US supervision in al-Tanf area to attack Syrian army positions, Syrian oil and gas fields as well as infrastructure facilities.

Another member of the same group, Salah Rashid al-Zaher, known as Abu Odai, said that while operating in al-Tanf base, he saw military vehicles transporting militants from al-Rukban camp to the base where they would received training and then would be sent to other areas to carry out acts of sabotage against oil and gas wells and army positions. He  added that he also saw that most of the aid delivered to al-Rukban camp were handed over to Daesh terror organization by some groups affiliated to the US occupation forces. 

Part of the aid were handed over to some individuals who sold it at high prices that couldn't be afforded by the displaced people in the camp.

Hamda Mustafa