Led Coalition Responds With Airstrikes to Pro-Regime Attacks in Syria

Led Coalition Responds With Airstrikes to Pro-Regime Attacks in Syria

Deadly air strikes by a US-led coalition on pro-regime forces in eastern Syria were purely an act of self-defense, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said Thursday, in an apparent effort to tamp down controversy over the incident.

Well Semin... Syrian state-run media says the US strikes killed and wounded dozens of tribal fighters, calling it a new effort "to support terrorism".

The incident underscored the potential for further conflict in Syria's oil-rich east, where the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias holds swathes of land after its offensive against Islamic State. Iranian, Assad, Russians, mercenaries.

The forces were "likely seeking to seize oilfields in Khusham that had been a major source of revenue for Daesh [ISIS] from 2014 to 2017", added the official. USA military personnel were at the base at the time, he said.

"I am gravely concerned that the Trump administration is purposefully stumbling into a broader conflict, without a vote of Congress or clear objectives", Kaine said.

According to the US Central Command, coalition advisers were also present at the site of the attack late on Tuesday.

Mattis said he could not identify the attackers. "This is self-defense".

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"It was self-defense", Mattis told reporters.

Reuters later cited a USA official as saying on condition of anonymity that over 100 pro-government forces had been killed in the assault.

Veale said that about "20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 meters" of the Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters before the US-backed fighters and coalition forces "targeted the aggressors with a combination of air and artillery strikes". But a commander in the military alliance supporting Assad disputed the death toll, saying seven members of the pro-government forces were killed and 27 injured.

"We suspect Syrian pro-regime forces were attempting to seize terrain SDF had liberated from Daesh in September 2017", an unnamed USA official told Reuters, using an Arabic name for the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). "We demand (that the global community) condemn this massacre and hold the coalition responsible for it".

Regime and SDF fighters were involved in several skirmishes in the area a year ago, as they each conducted parallel operations against some of the Islamic State jihadist group's last bastions.

The Euphates river Valley has been a sort of boundary demarcating both forces, with the SDF controlling east of the river while the government controls west.

Still, these episodes have been sporadic.

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The U.S. official told the news outlet that the coalition had alerted Russian Federation about the presence of the alliance-backed SDF in the region.

A deconfliction line establishing the Euphrates River as the divide between the rival forces was negotiated between the USA and Russian militaries past year, and until now it has served to mostly keep the armies apart.

State media had reported that the US-led attack bombed forces fighting IS and SDF denouncing it as an attempt to support terrorism.

Veale said the coalition had informed Russian Federation of the presence of pro-regime forces in the area before the attack via a hotline established as part of the de-confliction line agreement, adding that the coalition had observed a buildup of pro-regime troops over the past week.

"Coalition officials were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the thwarted (Pro-Regime Forces) attack", the official added. Nouri Mahmoud, spokesman for the SDF's most powerful element, the Kurdish YPG militia, described the clash as "skirmishes" and said each side had returned to their former positions.

The coalition "cannot speculate on the exact makeup of the Syrian pro-regime forces who conducted the attack at this time", Veale said.

Russia's Interfax cited the Defense Ministry as saying the incident showed the US goal in Syria was not to battle Islamic State but "the capture and withholding of the economic assets", an apparent reference to the Khusham oil field.

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Russia's Ministry of Defense indicated Thursday that the pro-regime forces had not been coordinating with Russian officials in the area.

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