Tension rises over United States airstrikes on pro-Assad regime convoy

The coalition said "apparent" Russian attempts to stop pro-government forces from moving toward the Tanf region - where the borders of Jordan, Syria and Iraq meet, as well as warning shots and a show of force - had failed.

U.S. officials and Syrian activists said the air strike took place in the desert near the border with Jordan, although it was unclear if it struck the Syrian army or just militias allied with the government. "The so-called worldwide coalition carried out Thursday an aggression against one of our military points that resulted in a number of martyrs and material damage", an unnamed army official said, according to Syrian state news agency SANA. A road between Iraq and Syria would facilitate the flow of assistance from Iran, which strongly supports Assad.

Defense Secretary James Mattis confirmed that it was Iranian, not Syrian forces, that were the targets of USA airstrikes carried out Thursday in the southern part of the country, along the Iraqi border.

On Thursday, a US defense official told Sputnik that the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State terror group (ISIL or Daesh, banned in Russia) conducted a strike near the At Tanf hamlet against Syrian government forces which were operating in an established US-Russian de-escalation zone and posed a threat to forces of the United States and its allies.

"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 coalition tried to warn off the pro-Syrian government forces prior to carrying out the airstrike.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters the USA would defend its troops in case of "aggressive" steps against them.

The region around Tanf, where the borders of Jordan, Syria and Iraq meet, has been considered a de-conflicted zone, under an agreement between the USA and Russian Federation that went into effect earlier this month.

The Syrian military official said the area hit was a military position along the Tanf highway.

Speaking to reporters, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the U.S. will defend its troops in case of "aggressive" steps against them.

Tehran's interference in Syria and its support for the Assad regime has only served to extend the country's bloody civil war, Mr. Mattis said during a press conference on the ongoing fight against Islamic State, or ISIS or ISIL.

A Syrian military official confirmed the strike on state TV on Friday. It added that the USA asked Russian Federation to pressure the Syrian army to stay nine miles away from their "illegitimate bases in Tanf".

"In this incident, ultimately, we made an unintentional regrettable error primarily based on human factors in several areas in the targeting process", the lead investigator, US Air Force Brig.

  • Leroy Wright