Syrian Pro-Regime Forces Attack Prompts Coalition Defensive Strikes

US forces Deir Ezzor

US forces Deir Ezzor

The official says the strikes were in self-defence after the pro-government forces began firing artillery and tank rounds at the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

As Newsy previously reported, the coalition struck the group of pro-regime fighters in response to what it called "an unprovoked attack" on the headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

The official said about 100 pro-government forces were killed in the counterattack.

US officials say about 500 pro-Assad regime forces participated in the attack on the coalition location, using heavy artillery, T-54 and T-72 main battle tanks and mortar fire.

"This action was taken in self-defense", he said, adding that pro-regime forces that returned across the river had not been targeted.

No U.S. military members were injured in the clash.

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One SDF fighter was wounded, the official said. A USA military official who spoke on condition of anonymity had earlier said the US strikes killed around 100 troops, but Veale said the military does not have an exact figure for the casualties.

The coalition suspects pro-government forces of trying to wrest control over areas the SDF captured from the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in September, including lucrative gas and oil fields, the official said.

"Coalition officials were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the thwarted (enemy) attack", the official said.

The US has launched rare air strikes in eastern Syria to thwart an attack on US-backed rebels by forces aligned to Syria's government. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the attack.

The clash is the largest incident between the Assad regime, which is funded and armed by Iran and Russian Federation, and the American-backed Kurdish forces. Coalition aircraft have struck regime forces who were perceived as posing a threat to a base at At Tanf, Syria, that houses United States and coalition military advisers.

Though Russia announced its forces would withdraw from Syria in December, the recent rash of renewed strikes show they have stayed put, and are likely responding to an increased need to support the Assad regime.

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