US Strike Hits Pro-Syrian Forces Seen as 'Threat': Officials

It happened near Tanf
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 18, 2017 1:58 PM CDT
Negotiations during the intra-Syrian talks at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva on Tuesday.   (Salvatore Di Nolfi)
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(Newser) – US officials say an American airstrike has hit pro-Syrian government forces in southern Syria as they were setting up fighting positions in a protected area. The officials say the strike Thursday near Tanf hit a tank and a bulldozer and forces there, but it wasn't clear if they were Syrian army troops or other pro-government allies, the AP reports. One official says the pro-regime forces had entered a so-called "de-confliction" zone without authorization and were perceived as a threat to US-allied troops there. The officials say the strike was a defensive move to protect the US allies; it wasn't clear if US forces were present. The officials weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

The area has been a source of tension as both government forces and US-backed rebels advance there. Both the government forces and the rebels are trying to rout Islamic State militants from the area. Meanwhile, a Syria state news agency says President Bashar Assad has met with Iraq National Security Adviser Faleh al-Fayad to discuss "practical" steps to improve coordination between their countries' militaries in the anti-terrorism campaign along their shared border. Syrian state media and a monitoring group say at least 15 civilians were killed this week and dozens wounded in an ISIS offensive on the government-held village of Aqarab al-Safiyeh in central Syria. State news agency SANA says women and children were among the dead, and that some were beheaded. (Read more Syria stories.)

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