Syria: US forces conducts air strikes against pro-government forces

US officials have confirmed that an air strike had been carried out against pro-Syrian goverment forces which had attacked the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in what it described as an unprovoked attack on allied Kurdish and Arab fighters. An estimate of 100 pro-government fighter are said to have been killed in the strike, officials says. 

Pro-Syrian government fighters had alleged tried to take and area that is being controlled by the SDF forces east of the River Euphrates since it liberated the region from the Islamic State in September 2017.

The Euphates river Valley has been a sort of boundary demarcating both forces, with the SDF controlling east of the river while the government controls west. Over 500 pro-government fighter armed with tanks, mortars, artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems carried out the attack, according to an unnamed US military personnel.

A statement said, "Coalition service members in an advise, assist, and accompany capacity were co-located with SDF partners during the attack 8km east of the agreed-upon Euphrates river de-confliction line."

"In defence of coalition and partner forces, the coalition conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression," it added, asserting its "non-negotiable right to act in self-defence".

One US official told Reuters, "We suspect Syrian pro-regime forces were attempting to seize terrain SDF had liberated from [IS] in September 2017," adding that they were likely seeking to seize the oilfields in Khusham, a major source of revenue for IS from 2014 till it recaptured by the SDF.

State media had reported that the US-led attack bombed forces fighting IS and SDF denouncing it as an attempt to support terrorism. The Syrian Observatory said those involved and killed by the strikes were tribesmen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and Shia militias of Afghanistan.

The Russian defense ministry, which provides backing and support to president al-Assad, said this has shown that the US interest in the region is to "seize and hold the Syrian economic assets and not to fight the Islamic State grop."

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