US-supported rebel militia group Maghawir al_Thawra appears to be losing some members along with their families who are fleeing into Assad government territory. There have been two recent group defections.
Those fleeing may be associated with smuggling drugsThe group was centered around the US base al-Tanf in a desert eastern area near the border with Iraq and near Jordan. The area had become a haven for the group who did little but hang out with US arms at the border. However, at least one report suggests that those fleeing to Assad territory had been smuggling drugs.Some rebel sources said that Samir al-Khidr along with several members of the militia and their families fled to the Assad-held city of Palmyra from the US al-Tanf base. Even though the US has concentrated upon keeping most of its troops remaining in Syria in oil producing regions they have remained at al-Tanf.The Maghawir al Thawra narrativeThere are still members of the militia at al Tanf who had their own interpretation of what had happened. They said in a tweet about al-Khidr: “He left because he could not smuggle drugs in this area due to the efforts of Maghaweir al-Thowra in interdicted drugs. We allowed him to leave with his family, as we did not want to get in a conflict with him because all the women and children with him.” The militia fled with US weapons and vehicles. This is not the first defection but follows on an earlier one this month. However, there are still a number of the approximately one hundred fighters in the militia around the al-Tanf base.One report claims the US is attempting to brand the group as drug smugglers, and claims that those fleeing are doing so because the US would not let them get away with smuggling on Jordan's border.The appended video purports to show the convoy of defectors defecting into Assad-controlled territory. If the video is correct then quite a number of US vehicles were taken as well as armaments. This must have been the earlier defection judging by the date.
Previously published in the Digital Journal