The recent US bombing of pro-Assad forces in Syria was caused by a direct threat to the wider US strategy, which is on the brink of failure.

To anyone who has been paying attention, the US-strategy in Syria is obvious. It is to isolate and weaken the Assad government until it collapses. In order to achieve that goal it is vital to isolate Assad-controlled territory in the populous West of the country from Iraq, a largely sympathetic Shiite-dominated state, and Iran.

In short, the main US goal in the Syrian war is to break the Shiite corridor that stretches all the way from Tehran to the Hezbollah bases in Lebanon, and keep it broken. This is essentially because it is perceived as a threat to Israel, a country that US-political donors are over-keen to protect.

For several years the US has achieved its purpose through the rise of ISIS in the less populous East of Syria. This has effectively cut off Assad Syria from its allies. But now that ISIS has become toxic, the US is trying to find suitable substitutes to perform this function. In the North it has been having success with the largely Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, but in the South its attempt to create a suitable alternative has been less successful. 

In recent months the US and its allies -- Jordan and the UK -- have been backing Maghawir Al-Thawra, essentially an astroturf group bolstered by special forces and mercenaries, but with few organic roots in the conflict. Recently Maghawir Al-Thawra had some success against ISIS, who are overstretched. 

But, in recent days, Assad forces, bolstered by Iranians and Hezbollah allies, have noticed the game being played by America and have responded by pushing hard into Maghawir Al-Thawra territory. 

As the above map shows, their aim is to drive down to the Iraq border and effectively reopen the Shiite Corridor once more. This is why the US decided to bomb their advance. 

One story being presented in the media is that the advance of Assad forces threatened US and British personnel at An Tanf. That is purely a secondary consideration as these could easily be removed in time.

The Syrian move is being made in such strength, and Maghawir Al-Thawra is apparently so weak, that the US attempt to stop the advance seems doomed to failure. 

Also, Syria is now deploying its own air force to protect the advance, making future strikes on it a lot more dicey for the US and its allies. 

Once the Assad forces reach the part of the Iraqi border controlled by the Iraqi government, they will have effectively reopened the Shiite Corridor and defeated America's main strategic goal of keeping them isolated by land. 
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