Led coalition says it struck Syrian pro-regime forces after 'unprovoked attack'

Led coalition says it struck Syrian pro-regime forces after 'unprovoked attack'

In a major clash the USA -led military coalition in Syria has killed more than 100 troops allied with the regime of Bashar Assad - after some 500 soldiers backed by tanks launched what appeared to be a "coordinated attack" on a headquarters of rebel fighters being trained by American advisers, military officials revealed late Wednesday.

After approximately 500 pro-regime troops carried out an attack with tanks, mortar fire, and artillery on the Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters, the coalition launched a counterattack.

In a statement, officials said coalition service members in an advise, assist and accompany capacity were with SDF partners during the attack, about 4 miles east of the agreed-upon Euphrates River de-confliction line.

According to the statement, the strike came after "Syrian pro-regime forces initiated an unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) headquarters on February 7".

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The military official said the coalition had been observing a slow buildup of pro-government forces over the past week, and alerted Russian officials of the SDF presence in Khusham. The SDF are a USA -backed alliance of militias in northern and eastern Syria. Syrian government forces are active on the other side of the river around the city of Deir el-Zour. One official added that Russian contractors may have been involved in the initial attack.

"The US military is telling Damascus that it better think long and hard if it wants to go after America's partners", Mr Heras said.

"Syrian pro-regime forces initiated an unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters February 7", the statement said.

He said the coalition suspected that pro-regime forces were attempting to seize territory, including lucrative oil fields, that the Syrian Democratic Forces had liberated from ISIS in September. The Syrian army is supported by Iranian-backed militias and Russian forces. Any of the attacking vehicles and personnel who turned around and headed back west were not targeted, the military official said. "Russian officials assured Coalition officials they would not engage Coalition forces in the vicinity".

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The US maintains about 2,000 troops in Syria, who mostly work with the over 50,000-strong Syrian Democratic Forces, a mix of Kurdish and Arab fighters who have been the primary US-backed force fighting ISIS in Syria.

The SDF is an alliance of Arab and Kurdish militias in northern and eastern Syria and with USA backing are fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The U.S. Navy also launched a volley of Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield in April after Assad's troops used chemical weapons against civilians.

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