United States aircraft strikes pro-Assad forces in Syria
- Author: Leroy Wright May 19, 2017,
May 19, 2017, 22:44
"Coalition struck Syrian pro-regime forces advancing in a de-confliction zone near al Tanf posing a threat to United States partner forces", it said.
A United States defence official said the convoy had not responded to numerous warnings that it was "getting too close to coalition forces".
On April 7, US President Donald Trump ordered a missile strike on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in response to the April 4 attack with chemical weapons which reportedly killed dozens of civilians, including many children, in Khan Sheikhun, Idlib province, in Northwest Syria.
Last month, US-led allied forces and Syrian rebels thwarted a significant Daesh attack on the base.
The region around Al Tanf, near the border with Jordan and Iraq, is considered a de-conflicted zone under an agreement between the U.S. and Russian Federation, the coalition added. As the territory dominated by ISIS collapses in the face of advances by Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq forces in Mosul, though, the world's most crowded battlespace further shrinks.
"The Syrian army is fighting terrorist groups on its ground, and no force has the right to determine the fronts on which the army fight the terrorist groups", the statement said.
It wasn't clear if USA forces were there.
"Such actions that were carried out against the Syrian armed forces. this is completely unacceptable, this is a breach of Syrian sovereignty", Gatilov said. A tank and several other vehicles were destroyed in the airstrike after the convoy ignored repeated warnings.
At the time of the strike, pro-Assad forces "were advancing well inside" the de-escalation zone, the coalition said in a Thursday statement.
The convoy was hit on Thursday as it neared a group of US-backed rebels and a Western special forces unit in Tanf.
The Special Forces are training the rebels to fight ISIS - and also accompanying them on combat missions against the militants.
The airstrikes were considered to be carried out in "self-defense" given the militias' proximity to a base used by elite USA and coalition troops.
Speaking to reporters, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the U.S. will defend its troops in case of "aggressive" steps against them.
Attempts to stop the convoy included a call to the Russians - who are working with the Syrian regime - then a "show of force" in the skies above the vehicles, followed by warning shots.