U.S. launches rare strike on Syrian government-backed troops

Saul Bowman
February 8, 2018

US officials said it was not immediately clear whether the attacking forces were part of the the Syrian military or belonged to foreign militias or other units who fight in support of the government.

A USA military spokesman said the United States launched air and artillery strikes after Syrian government forces attacked a compound belonging to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US ally, in Khusham, Syria, Politico reported.

The US military launched airstrikes on Syrian government-backed troops Wednesday, a rarity in the Syrian civil war.

Officials say the airstrikes were in defense "of coalition and partner forces". About 100 of the attackers were killed, the official said. Syrian government forces are active on the other side of the river around the city of Deir el-Zour.

"Syrian pro-regime forces maneuvered T-54 and T-72 main battle tanks with supporting mortar fire in what appears to be a coordinated attack on Syrian Democratic Forces approximately 8 kilometers east of the Euphrates River de-confliction line in Khusham, Syria", the military official said.

The military official said the coalition had been observing a slow buildup of pro-government forces over the past week, and alerted Russian officials of the SDF presence in Khusham. "There are about 2,000 USA troops in Syria focused on the fight against ISIS", said Tom.

One SDF fighter was wounded in the incident, the official said.

The Syrian army is backed by Iranian-backed militias and Russian forces.

US -backed forces retook the Islamic State terror group's de facto capital, Raqqa, last October.

"Coalition officials were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the thwarted (Pro-Regime Forces) attack", the military official 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.

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