Syria, Russia: US coalition airstrike killed eight

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 24, 2017

The United States said on Friday it believed forces in a convoy targeted by USA military aircraft in southern Syria on Thursday were Iranian-directed, in a possible sign of increased tension between Washington and Tehran in the Syrian war.

"The coalition struck pro-regime forces... after apparent Russian attempts to dissuade Syrian pro-regime movement south towards al-Tanf were unsuccessful, a coalition aircraft show of force and the firing of warning shots", the statement said.

The pro-regime convoy had come within 18 miles the al-Tanf base, which houses USA and British special forces in southern Syria, and breached the "deconfliction zone" around the base.

The Syrian Army on Friday confirmed reports about a US-led airstrike on a military convoy near the Iraqi border, saying Washington's attempt will not terrorize the army from continuing to fight the terrorist groups.

The Tanf area has been considered a de-conflicted zone between the USA and Russian Federation, as part of an agreement that went into effect earlier this month.

The Pentagon says this was a defensive strike, launched after pro-regime forces had violated an agreed deconfliction zone around a base at al-Tanf, near the Syria's southern border with Jordan and Iraq, where USA and British Special Forces are training rebels to fight ISIS.

"We're not increasing our role in the Syrian civil war but we will defend our troops, and that is a coalition element made up of more than just USA troops, and so we'll defend ourselves", Mattis said prior to a meeting with the Swedish defense minister.

"They were potentially probing to see how close they could get to al Tanf", an anonymous U.S. official said.

Still, the strikes would be the first against fighters aligned with Syria's Government since the United States waged cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base in April.

Citing a source with the US-backed Maghawir al Thawra militant group, Reuters reported that the militants initially clashed with the advancing pro-government forces prior to the airstrike.

The official was "not sure" which forces were in the convoy but they "were clearly working with the Syrian" regime. There is no interaction between the US and Syrian militaries.

However, the document refers to frequent violations of worldwide law by Damascus, including rules on armed conflict and human rights, without presenting the slightest evidence, says the Russian agency.

U.S. officials said the strike was purely a defensive measure. He added that forces of the USA -led coalition will continue to defend themselves against IS or any other threat to Coalition or partnered forces in the area.

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