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

Aaron Brown
February 9, 2018

"We estimate more than 100 Syrian pro-regime forces were killed while engaging SDF and coalition forces", while one SDF member was wounded, a U.S. military official said.

Syrian state media said the US -led coalition bombing left dozens killed and wounded.

The US-led anti-jihadist coalition carried out strikes in "self-defense" against forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, leaving an estimated more than 100 pro-regime personnel dead, the US military said Wednesday.

The U.S. -led coalition was set up in 2014 to battle Islamic State fighters in both Syria and Iraq, who were largely defeated past year.

She stressed that the coalition strikes were purely defensive and that Washington is not seeking to fight Syrian government forces. Over 500 pro-government fighter armed with tanks, mortars, artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems carried out the attack, according to an unnamed U.S. military personnel. According to a statement released by Operation Inherent Resolve, American advisers were present at the time of the attack, though none were injured or killed.

He said the attacking force was made up of about 300 troops with tanks and artillery.

The U.S. involvement is a rare example of U.S. forces striking directly at Syrian regime troops.

Regime forces were likely attempting to take an oilfield near Khusham.

USA forces in Syria have already faced direct threats from Syrian and Iranian-backed forces, leading to the shoot-down of Iranian drones and a Syrian jet previous year, as well as to tensions with Russian Federation.

SANA says the local fighters were battling IS militants and the US -backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the area. Officials believe they were trying to seize a nearby oil field.

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Reuters reported that regime forces were likely trying to take an oilfield near Khusham, citing a United States official. It noted that the government-backed Syrian forces had failed to coordinate their action with the Russian military prior to launching the mission. This official added that there is no direct evidence yet that the Russians had fired on the Syrian Democratic Forces facility where the USA advisers were located. CENTCOM reports that no Americans were injured as they engaged roughly 500 attacking troops, as well as tanks and artillery.

But by late 2017, the jihadists were losing to two parallel offensives, one by Russian-backed regime forces and the other by a US-backed alliance.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 56 people, including 10 children, were killed on Thursday. Mattis has previously said that USA forces would help support United States diplomats working to resolve the conflict.

Tillerson made clear that the U.S. thinks the UN-led process aimed at ending the Syrian civil war will remove Assad from power.

"In defense of Coalition and partner forces, the Coalition conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression against partners engaged in the Global Coalition's defeat-Daesh mission".

In 2017, the USA and Russian Federation agreed to a "de-confliction line" along the Euphrates River to prevent the separate anti-IS offensives they were backing from clashing. Mattis said the USA was still trying Thursday to establish exactly who the attackers were but added that the Russians have said they did not have forces there and "you can't expect somebody to deconflict something they can't control". "Russian officials assured Coalition officials they would not engage Coalition forces in the vicinity".

Assad has vowed to recover every inch of Syria from those he calls "terrorists" - but the U.S. has repeatedly indicated that it's not about to give up its alliance with the SDF.

The SDF is a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters led by the Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG).

The larger picture is that for the United States and pro-western groups such as the Kurdish YPG, those parts of northern Syria beyond the regime's control are a powerful negotiating tool when the future of Syria comes to be discussed, not least because they contain much of Syria's oil. The US also shot down a pro-regime drone after it dropped a munition in the vicinity of US troops in Syria. Coalition aircraft have struck regime forces who were perceived as posing a threat to a base at At Tanf, Syria, that houses USA and coalition military advisers.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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