U.S. airstrike repels attack by Syrian regime-backed troops
- Alfred Griffith
The pro-government forces had been backed by artillery, tanks and other heavy weaponry when they attacked an SDF headquarters "eight kilometres [5 miles] east of the agreed-upon Euphrates River de-confliction line", U.S. officials said.
Syrian state television today said the US-led coalition against Daesh had bombed pro-Syrian government forces east of the Euphrates river in Deir ez-Zor province in eastern Syria, causing casualties, Reuters reported.
US-led coalition has killed more than 100 troops allied with the Syrian regime in an overnight operation carried out in retaliation for an attack on Kurdish forces.
When the advancing forces unleashed a volley of 20-30 tank and artillery rounds toward the base, US warplanes and artillery struck back, he said.
It's not the first time USA -led forces in the country primarily to hunt ISIS have targeted pro-Assad forces in self-defense.
U.S. military officials said the attacks, which began late on Wednesday, were conducted to "repel acts of aggression".
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Syrian state news agency SANA described the action as an "aggression" by the coalition against "popular forces" who were fighting ISIS and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
The Euphrates River, flowing through Northeastern Syria, serves as a demarcation line between the US backed SDF and Russian Federation and Iran backed pro regime forces believed to be active around the city of Deir el-Zour.
Officials believe the attack was an attempt by pro-regime forces to take back land the SDF had liberated from IS fighters in September, including oil fields in Khusham.
The Euphrates valley is one of open fronts still in fight against Islamic State (ISIS). Last year, US aircraft shot down a Syrian jet after pro-government forces attacked USA allied units in northern Syria.
Those pro-regime vehicles and personnel who retreated across the river were not targeted, the official added. The El Asad regime is supported by Iranian, Lebanese and Afghan armed groups, among ors, as well as Russian air coverage. "Russian officials assured Coalition officials they would not engage Coalition forces in the vicinity". Coalition aircraft have struck regime forces who were perceived as posing a threat to a base at At Tanf, Syria, that houses U.S. and coalition military advisers.
The pro-regime forces includes several hundred soldiers as well.