US Launches Airstrikes on Syrian Regime-Backed Troops

It was self-defense, officials say
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 8, 2018 12:33 AM CST
Syrian troops and pro-government gunmen standon pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine-guns, in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, Syria.   (SANA via AP, File)
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(Newser) – The US military launched airstrikes on Syrian government-backed troops Wednesday after as many as 500 attackers began what a US military official says appeared to be a coordinated assault on Syrian opposition forces accompanied by US advisers in Deir el-Zour province. The official says the strikes were in self-defense after the pro-government forces began firing artillery and tank rounds at the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, the AP reports. About 100 of the attackers were killed, the official says. It was a rare US strike against forces that support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The official said the pro-regime troops were in a large formation supported by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems, and mortars.

Officials say no Americans were injured or killed in the attack by the pro-regime forces, but one SDF member was wounded. Officials say that in response to the attack, the SDF, supported by the coalition, targeted the pro-government troops with a combination of airstrikes and artillery rounds. Any of the attacking vehicles and personnel who turned around and headed back west were not targeted, the military official says. The SDF, aided by coalition support, are battling ISIS militants east of the Euphrates River. Syrian government forces are active on the other side of the river around the city of Deir el-Zour. Coalition officials say they were in communication with their Russian counterparts during the attack, and the Russians said they would not strike coalition forces in the area.

(Read more Syria stories.)

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