Led Coalition Forces Strike 'Syrian Pro-Regime' Forces

Casey Dawson
February 8, 2018

The U.S. military said it killed more than 100 Syrian government soldiers on Thursday after an "unprovoked attack" against the U.S. -led coalition occupying Syria.

A military official, who provided information about the attack on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it on the record, said the attacking forces initiated the assault by lobbing artillery at the SDF and USA forces, who were located eight miles east of the Euphrates River.

Officials say the US was in contact with Russian counterparts during and after the attack and were assured that Russia would not engage coalition forces in the vicinity.

During the attack, "coalition service members [US troops] in an advice, assist and accompany capacity were co-located with SDF partners", just "eight kilometres east of the agreed-upon Euphrates River de-confliction line". "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".

The incident marks one of a limited number of times in which the United States has struck out directly at forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

It was a rare USA strike against forces that support Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

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There are about 2,000 American troops in Syria, mostly operating in support of the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF), a Kurdish-dominated group that have helped expel the Islamic State from most areas it once controlled. Syrian government forces are active on the other side of the river around the city of Deir el-Zour.

USA officials declined to provide details on the military assets that were used to beat back the assault, which nations they were from, or the number of advisers in the area.

Russian Federation and Iran back Assad, while the United States and Turkey support differing rebel groups fighting the government. "Coalition officials were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the thwarted PRF attack".

Officials said it appeared that the pro-regime forces were trying to take back land that the SDF had liberated from IS fighters last September, including oil fields in Khusham. "Russian officials assured Coalition officials they would not engage Coalition forces in the vicinity".

On May 18, they attacked pro-regime forces that continued approaching coalition troops despite warning shots and Russian attempts to halt the troops.

It's not the first time US -led forces in the country primarily to hunt ISIS have targeted pro-Assad forces in self-defense.

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