AMMAN (Dispatches) -- Two Western-backed terrorist groups fighting the Syrian army in southeastern Syria have been asked by their Western and Arab backers to pull out of the area and retreat into Jordan, Reuters quoted militant and diplomatic sources as saying.
Both Usoud al-Sharqiya and Martyr Ahmad Abdo, part of the so-called Free Syrian Army group, said they were told to end fighting in the area by their backers from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and neighboring states that support them, which include Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
"There is an official request for us to leave the area,” said Badr al Din al Salamah, a senior official in the Usoud al Sharqiya group, one of the main terrorist groups in the area and a recipient of the military aid from the U.S.
They are now based in a large swathe of sparsely populated territory stretching some 50 km (30 miles) southeast of Damascus, all the way to the Iraqi border along the frontier with Jordan.
But an offensive by the Syrian army has encircled the terrorists. In recent weeks, the army has regained a string of border posts with Jordan that it had abandoned in the early years of the conflict
The militants get their support from the U.S. as part of the CIA’s program to equip and train militant groups fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In a letter purportedly to militant commanders and seen by Reuters, they were told that their presence in a small enclave now posed a threat to them.
The decision has caused disaffection among hundreds of militants in the two groups, who consider withdrawing into Jordan as effectively disbanding their forces, Reuters reported.
The two groups, who have hundreds of terrorists, will have to hand over heavy artillery and dozens of U.S.-made anti-tank missiles, militants say.
In a meeting on Saturday, the terrorist commanders told the joint operations center in Jordan that requested their withdrawal they would rather "stay and die” in the desert.
"We have rejected the request, since if we entered Jordan we would consider it the end,” said al-Salameh.
The military operations center has not offered them a choice to move to a U.S. garrison further east near the border with Iraq in Tanf, the militants say. That garrison, run by a separate program of the Pentagon, hosts a terrorist group known as the Maqhawir al Thwra.
Another militant official said they were not necessarily opposed to withdrawing, but they wanted assurances from Jordan they could lobby to expand to the Badia area a U.S.-Russian-brokered ceasefire, which has halted fighting in southwest Syria.
The news comes amid reports that U.S. aircraft were evacuating Daesh field commanders in Dayr al-Zawr in the face of army advances.
Last month, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is sympathetic to militants, reported at least five instances of U.S. airlifts of Daesh elements in Dayr al-Zawr. Washington has rejected the reports as "false.”
The U.S. has long been accused of colluding with Daesh through providing safe passage and logistical support to members of the Takfiri group in conflict zones.
Last week, Syrian government forces broke the three-year-long Daesh siege on Dayr al-Zawr, the provincial capital of the oil-rich province of the same name.