The US-led special operations task force that focused on fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria has gotten a new name and more authorities to expand operations into Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon.
Formed in 2015, the Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (SOJTF-OIR) is now known as SOJTF-Levant. The renamed new task force will still be operating in Iraq and Syria as it expands elsewhere in the region.
SOJTF-Levant is a joint special-operations force, meaning it is made up of a combination of special forces from each branch of the US military who deploy to the region on a rotational basis. An Army Special Forces officer told Business Insider that the task force will be focusing on more than ISIS since only remnants of the group are left in the Middle East.
The officer said SOJTF-Levant could be used to fight Iranian forces. “I think the new unit might have expanded authorities. Iran is deeply involved in the region and is constantly brewing trouble for us and our regional allies and partners, not only in Syria and Iraq but in the countries of the Levant,” the officer said.
When ISIS held significant territory in Iraq and Syria, the US was on the same side as Iran and its allies in major battles. But now that ISIS is essentially gone, the US needs an excuse to stay in the region. “Iran, in its current state at least, is a threat to regional security and stability and should be treated as such,” the officer said.