United States airstrike hits pro-Syria government forces for first time
United States airstrike hits pro-Syria government forces for first time
19 May, 2017, 22:36
A US-led coalition spokesperson has confirmed that coalition strikes in southern Syria struck Syrian government armed forces, BuzzFeed News reported on Thursday.
US commanders became concerned when they saw tanks, bulldozers and other heavy equipment advance into a "de-confliction" zone without authorization near a base where USA forces were located, according to the officials, who spoke about the incident after requesting anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Pro-Assad outlets reported that the USA -led coalition hit the Iranian-backed Imam Ali brigade.
The convoy was hit on Thursday, May 18 as it neared a group of US -backed rebels and a Western special forces unit in Tanf.
A US Air Force F-22 Raptor flying over the Arabian Sea in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on January 27.
Both the USA and Russian Federation, which is allied with the pro-Assad forces, have established buffer zones around their separate areas of operation to avoid collateral damage.
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The US-backed forces in that area are fighting against Islamic State militants.
A US 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.
Last month, US-led allied forces and Syrian rebels thwarted a significant IS attack on the base. When the Syrians insisted on proceeding into the area, the USA planes were cleared to fire.
The United States launched an airstrike against pro-Syrian forces who advanced inside a "de-conflicted zone" Thursday even though Russian Federation urged them not to, the US -led coalition said.
The coalition has described Thursday's strike as a defensive action that does not change the USA policy of focusing military efforts on defeating ISIS.
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Pro-Assad Shiite militias backed by Iran have historically operated in the area of the At Tanf base, CNN reported.
The pro-regime convoy had entered a so-called de-confliction zone to the northwest of at-Tanf and had apparently ignored Russian requests to turn away.
With a mission that focuses completely on ISIS, US troops have rarely had to worry about operating in close proximity to Syrian forces and their aligned militias.
Before the attack, the aircraft conducted a show of force by flying by the convoy and fired warning shots, the official said.
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