March 19, 2018

Pro-government forces attack US, Kurdish troops in eastern Syria

12 February 2018, 01:05 | Lorenzo Hawkins

Syrian civil defence volunteers attempting to put out a fire in the city of Maaret al-Numan

Syrian civil defence volunteers attempting to put out a fire in the city of Maaret al-Numan

The U.S. -led coalition in Syria has killed an estimated 100 pro-Assad fighters in air and artillery raids this week, including military contractors from Russian Federation, reports say.

The combination of air and artillery strikes came after pro-regime troops attacked the compound of the Syrian Democratic Forces in Khusham, Syria, according to a military spokesman.

Unnamed US military officials subsequently told reporters that about 500 pro-government fighters, backed by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars, were involved in the assault.

After the attack the coalition "conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression".

Around 100 soldiers allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been killed in airstrikes and artillery strikes by a US-led coalition.

There are about 2,000 American troops in Syria, mostly operating in support of the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF), a Kurdish-dominated group that have helped expel the Islamic State from most areas it once controlled.

Nebenzia said it was also "regrettable" that the Security Council wouldn't support a statement that Russian Federation sought Wednesday following an attack in Damascus that damaged its trade mission. One SDF member was wounded.

Regime forces were likely attempting to take an oilfield near Khusham.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has dismissed concerns the US is being dragged into a broader conflict in Syria after a major clash with pro-Syrian government forces overnight that may have left 100 or more of them dead. This came after militants in adjacent Idlib province downed a Russian fighter jet and killed the pilot on February 3, the AP said, citing unconfirmed Turkish media reports.

The US-led coalition in Syria has mounted an airstrike against government forces in response to an attack on its local allies. "Coalition officials were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the thwarted PRF attack".

The Pentagon boss also dismissed any suggestion that Russian Federation, the Syrian government's most powerful military ally, had any control over the mysterious attacking force. "Russian officials assured Coalition officials they would not engage Coalition forces in the vicinity".

However, during the mission, the Syrian militiamen were subjected to sudden shelling from mortars and multiple launch rocket systems and then came under fire from helicopters of the US -led coalition, the statement said.

In September 2014, the USA and Arab allies launch air strikes on the IS in Syria, opening a new front in the fight against the jihadist group, already targeted by raids in Iraq. That could complicate not only the U.S. -Russia relationship but also American involvement in Syria.

A US Navy F/A-18 shot down a Syrian regime Su-22 jet last June that had attacked US-backed forces on the ground. "Plans for the actual partition of Syria do exist, and we are aware of that".

US Marines firing a howitzer in Syria.

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