The desert of Al Tanaf administratively is affiliated to Homs province, south of Palmyra city along the Iraqi-Syrian borders. Al Tanaf crossing point was
controlled by “Islamic State” in May 21st 2015 after regime forces’ withdrawal from the area. The areas has been controlled by “Islamic State” until May 5th 2016 when the ” Syria’s New Army” , with the support of Ahmad Al Abdo squads along with air support of the US-led coalition warplanes, could regain Al Tanaf project which is a site near to Al Zweria village, about 350 km away from Al Boukmal city.
Second: the importance of Al Tanaf desert:
The importance of the location that was taken by “Syria’s New Army” lies in the fact that it is located in the middle of military supply line between Iraq and the Syrian desert, especially Al Sukhna town, that affiliates administratively to Homs, which “Islamic State” has been fighting fiercely with the regime forces after the latter took Palmyra city. This regime victory in Palmyra city is paving the way for tightening the noose of ” Islamic State” in Al Boukmal city along with cutting off its passage to eastern Qalamoon in Al Mahassah village, which is considered as the supply route.
Third: “Islamic State” organization’s attacks
In April 9th 2016, “Islamic Sate” fighters targeted one of “Syria’s New Army” camps with ten mortar shells, all of them were dropped on their camp, as reported by a SNA fighter. The fighter confirmed that there were asphyxiation cases among fighters. This led others to wear masks in order to avoid more asphyxiation cases. The fighter, who refused to reveal his name for security reasons, added : ” the closest point of “Islamic State” is about 15 km away from us. The organization tries to attack us many times using VBIEDs in order to regain the locations they lost, but they failed since they were is sight for the warplanes and since we have monitors that can detect the organization’s movement”.
One of the “Syria’s New Army” leaders confirmed that they detected the location where “Islamic Sate” launched the shell from after the end of the attack. One of the shells exploded among the “Islamic State” fighters. They have seen many of shells that were not used, and some liquid material was leaking from one shell.
” Ten fighters were injured by the attack, five of them suffered from asphyxiation, red-eyes, fibrillation, vomiting, pupil dilation. The medical team in the camp could provide the injured with the required first aids” he added.
The testimonies, that JFL received, indicate that there is a possibility of existence of prohibited weapons in the arsenal of ” Islamic State”. This justifies the fear of lots of civilians from “Islamic State” using it against them in order to block the attacks it receives especially in the areas that make a strategic depth which the organization will defend them by using all power and available tools.