According to eyewitnesses, they were there in a defensive role. But they are carrying an arsenal of equipment including sniper rifles, heavy machine guns and anti-tank missiles.If IS attacked again they would have been able to put up a considerable fight.A New Syrian Army’s spokesman refused to comment on the pictures of the special forces, but acknowledged their help.He said: “We are receiving special forces training from our British and American partners. We’re also getting weapons and equipment from the Pentagon as well as complete air support.”
It is believed to be the first time British forces have been photographed operating inside Syria, where they are engaged in relatively small numbers in wide-ranging roles that include surveillance, advisory and combat.The images depict British special forces sitting on Thalab long-range patrol vehicles as they move around the perimeter of a rebel base close to the Syria-Iraq border.The Thalab (Fox) vehicles are essentially modified, militarised and upgraded Toyota 4x4s used for long distance reconnaissance and surveillance missions, which were developed jointly in the middle of the last decade by a state-backed defence company in Jordan and the UK company Jankel.The vehicle, which has mounted weaponry and is often used for border patrols, has been primarily used by Jordanian special forces.Al-Tanf, where the vehicles were reportedly photographed, is a border crossing between Syria and Iraq that had been under Isis control, and is also not far from the Jordanian border. It is unclear how many Nato countries have deployed the modified trucks, though Belgium ordered a shipment of modified Fox vehicles earlier this year.The images seem to show British forces securing the perimeter of the rebel base following an attack by Isis, according to the BBC. The soldiers can be seen carrying anti-tank missiles, sniper rifles and other heavy artillery.
Unlike the clear knowledge surrounding American–YPG relations of involvement, much less is known about US ties to the groups operating in the deserts of southern Syria. Two important groups operating in this area are the ‘Forces of the Martyr Ahmad al-Abdo’ (Arabic: قوات الشهيد احمد العبده) and the ‘New Syrian Army’ (NSyA) (Arabic: جيش سوريا الجديد). Although both of the aforementioned groups receive support from the US, the level of involvement differs. The partnership between America and the NSyA can be regarded as tighter than that of the YPG. Even though the NSyA could arguably be one of the smallest groups comprised under the so-called ‘FSA’, the level of training, coordination and equipment surpasses most other groups. Rumors have circulated indicating the possibility of Jordanian special forces within its contingent. (The NSyA has coordinated with the Iraqi government on multiple occasions surrounding the Syrian–Iraqi border). King Abdullah II of Jordan revealed earlier this year that Jordanian special forces were indeed participating with rebels in this area.The sudden appearance of the NSyA occurred on November 15th, 2015. The NSyA launched its first operation on al-Tanf, which resulted in an attack on ammunition storehouses as well as on a bomb factory. Not much more information other than this video has been released about this raid. Bolstered by Jordan and America, the degree of cooperation can be seen in the group’s operational security (OPSEC). Quite different from the groups which fall under the umbrella of the FSA, the NSyA appears to be very professional and keen on keeping any sort of identification to a minimum.