Syria conflict: United States in rare counter-strike after Deir al-Zour attack

08 February, 2018, 13:13 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Syrian forces conduct special operation in Damascus suburb

USA -led coalition forces retaliated by launching airstrikes against the troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, according to the Defense Department.

The combination of air and artillery strikes were to counter an "unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) headquarters", in Deir Ezzor province, the US Central Command said, referring to the coalition's Syrian allies, who have played a major role in the war against ISIL. Nevertheless, the official said the U.S. is looking into whether Russian-affiliated forces may have been involved.

"We suspect Syrian pro-regime forces were attempting to seize terrain SDF had liberated from Daesh in September 2017", the official said.

No American troops were wounded or killed in the attack, however one SDF member was hurt.

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.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis
AFP 2018 JIM WATSON Pentagon Chief Claims Syrian Peace Congress in Sochi Failed

The coalition said the attack took place in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, eight kilometers east of the agreed upon "de-confliction" line which is created to separate Russian-backed regime troops and US-backed forces in Syria. But the Trump administration's hope for a lessening of hostilities in Syria's larger civil war has not materialized so far, as Turkish, Russian, Iranian and other forces are brought into ever closer proximity as they vie to determine control of and pursue their own long-term interests in Syria.

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

At least 100 militants were killed in the Coalition's attack, a USA military official told reporters on Wednesday. Up to 30 artillery and tank rounds came within 500 yards of an SDF headquarters.

A USA official told the news outlet that it was unclear yet whether Russian operators in the region were involved, and that the US had also not ruled out the possibility of the involvement of Iranian-backed forces.

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