Syria, Russia condemn attack by US-led coalition

20 May, 2017, 09:49 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • U.N. Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Syria Staffan de Mistura arrives to take part in a round of negotiations with Syria's main opposition High Negotiations Committee leader Naser al-Hariri during the Intra Syria talks in Geneva

The United States military has carried out an air strike against forces supported by the Syrian Government that posed a threat to US-coalition fighters in the country's south, USA officials say.

"On Thursday at 16:30, the so-called global coalition attacked one of the Syrian Arab Army's positions on the Al-Tanf road in the Syrian Badia region, producing a number of martyrs and causing material damage", a military source told Syrian state media yesterday.

The US military carried out the strike on the Shia jihadist militia as they headed towards the Al-Tanf military base in southern Syria - near the Syria-Iraq-Jordan border - used by US and US-backed rebel forces.

The airstrike appears to be the first publicly known direct confrontation between US forces and fighters loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

A USA defence official told the AFP news agency that the strike did not signal a strategic shift for the coalition, which has focused on battling IS and has tried to avoid intervening in Syria's civil war.

The bombing targeted Syrian "pro-regime forces that were advancing well inside an established de-confliction zone northwest of At Tanf, Syria", the command of Operation Inherent Resolve said.

Mr Gatilov also condemned a US-led coalition strike on Wednesday that reportedly killed dozens of civilians.

Citing a source with the US-backed Maghawir al Thawra militant group, Reuters reported that the militants initially clashed with the advancing pro-government forces prior to the airstrike.

On Monday, Al-Masdr News reported that Syrian Arab Army soldiers along and militias affiliated with the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units are preparing to recapture the nearby Tanf Border crossing from Daesh.

The Tanf area has been considered a de-conflicted zone between the USA and Russian Federation, as part of an agreement that went into effect earlier this month.

Iranian troops are said to be commanding the pro-Assad forces and a number of Lebanese Hezbollah fighters. The official added that forces of the USA -led coalition will continue to defend themselves against ISIS or any other threat to Coalition or partnered forces in the area.

"We are not increasing our role in the Syrian civil war, but we will defend our troops", Mattis said.

A commander in the alliance fighting in support of Assad called the strike a "warning raid", adding it was not aimed at causing casualties but instead stopping the advance. The United States in April infuriated the Kremlin by bombing a Syrian regime air base in response to an alleged chemical attack by Damascus.

"We welcome robust action against the foreign forces who have turned Syria into a killing field", he said.

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