Members of Last US-Backed Rebel Group Defect in Syria

Militia, families flee into government-controlled territory

The US had lost most of its Syrian rebel groups long ago, but Maghawir al-Thawra had remained, centered around al-Tanf. This rebel group too appears to be crumbling, with members and their families fleeing en masse into Assad government territory.

Tanf is a remote US-held corner of Syria near Iraq and Jordan, and with the US willing to attack anyone else in the area, became a haven for rebels who largely didn’t do anything but hang out with US arms at the border.

Even though the US war in Syria is supposed to just be about taking Syrian oil now, the US has remained in Tanf. The rebels, however, have begun defecting this week in high profile moves, taking US arms and vehicles and heading to Palmyra.

Instead of losing their last rebels, the US military is trying to rebrand this militia as drug smugglers, and claims they’re fleeing because the US wouldn’t let them get away with smuggling on Jordan’s border.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of