US-led coalition strikes kill pro-regime forces in Syria

The US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria conducted air and artillery strikes against pro-regime forces in Syria on...

Posted: Feb 8, 2018 8:02 PM
Updated: Feb 8, 2018 8:02 PM

The US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria conducted air and artillery strikes against pro-regime forces in Syria on Wednesday, killing an estimated 100 pro-regime fighters, according to a coalition statement.

The coalition described its action -- which if confirmed could represent the largest number of pro-regime casualties inflicted by the US-led coalition -- as carried out in "self defense."

Syrian state news agency SANA described the action as an "aggression" by the coalition against "popular forces" who were fighting ISIS and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. The attack had left "scores of persons dead and others injured" and caused "huge damage" to the area, SANA added.

According to a coalition statement, its strikes were carried out after forces allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "initiated an unprovoked attack" against a well-established Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters where coalition advisers were working with US-backed Syrian fighters.

Some 500 pro-regime troops carried out the attack using artillery, mortar fire and Russian-made tanks "in what appears to be a coordinated attack on Syrian Democratic Forces," US Army Col. Thomas Veale, a spokesman for the US-led coalition told CNN.

Veale said that about "20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 meters" of the Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters before the US-backed fighters and coalition forces "targeted the aggressors with a combination of air and artillery strikes."

The US strikes were carried out by manned and unmanned aircraft as well as a US High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), two US military officials told CNN.

US F-22 stealth jets, F-15 fighters, and MQ-9 drones were involved in the counterattack according to US Air Forces Central Command.

"Along with ground based fire support, these aircraft released multiple precision fire munitions and conducted strafing runs against the aggressor force, stopping their advance and destroying multiple artillery pieces and tanks," Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told CNN.

"We estimate more than 100 Syrian pro-regime forces were killed while engaging (Syrian Democratic Forces) and Coalition forces," a US military official told CNN.

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

Veale said no coalition or US personnel had been killed or wounded in the engagement but that one member of the Syrian Democratic Forces was wounded.

The coalition said the attack took place in Khusham in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, five miles east of the agreed-on "de-confliction" line designed to separate Russian-backed regime troops and US-backed forces in Syria.

Veale 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.

They "were likely seeking to seize oilfields in Khusham that had been a major source of revenue for Daesh from 2014 to 2017," he said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Russian hotline

Another US official who spoke to CNN said it was unclear exactly who the pro-regime forces were but that the US is looking into whether Russian contractors operating in the vicinity might have been involved. This official added that there is no direct evidence yet that the Russians had fired on the Syrian Democratic Forces facility where the US advisers were located. They have not ruled out that Iranian backed-forces might have also been involved in the attack, this official said.

The coalition "cannot speculate on the exact makeup of the Syrian pro-regime forces who conducted the attack at this time," Veale said.

Veale said the coalition had informed Russia of the presence of pro-regime forces in the area before the attack via a hotline established as part of the de-confliction line agreement, adding that the coalition had observed a buildup of pro-regime troops over the past week.

"Coalition officials were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the thwarted (Pro-Regime Forces) attack," Veale said. "Russian officials assured Coalition officials they would not engage Coalition forces in the vicinity."

Russia's Ministry of Defense indicated Thursday that the pro-regime forces had not been coordinating with Russian officials in the area.

In a statement, the ministry said a "people's militia of the pro-government forces" had come under mortar, rocket and helicopter fire from US-led coalition forces while conducting a "reconnaissance and search operation" near an oil refinery southeast of the town of Salhiyah.

"As a result of the shelling, 25 Syrian militias were injured," the statement said. "The incident was caused by uncoordinated reconnaissance and search operations plans of the Syrian militias with the Russian command task force in the locality of Salhiyah."

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.

This is not the first time the US military has clashed with pro-regime forces 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. Coalition aircraft have struck regime forces who were perceived as posing a threat to a base at At Tanf, Syria, that houses US and coalition military advisers. The US also shot down a pro-regime drone after it dropped a munition in the vicinity of US troops in Syria.

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 81°
Florence
Few Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 83°
Fayetteville
Broken Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 81°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 80°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 85°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18766

Reported Deaths: 651
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2284118
Jefferson1884103
Montgomery182343
Tuscaloosa82216
Marshall7059
Franklin5788
Lee55834
Shelby52220
Tallapoosa43266
Butler41918
Walker3812
Elmore3729
Chambers35926
Madison3464
Morgan2981
Unassigned2972
Baldwin2929
Dallas2873
Etowah26212
Lowndes25912
DeKalb2573
Autauga2395
Coffee2391
Sumter2287
Houston2265
Bullock2156
Pike2080
Colbert1872
Hale1799
Russell1770
Barbour1771
Marengo1746
Lauderdale1692
Calhoun1653
Wilcox1547
Choctaw15310
Cullman1501
Clarke1492
St. Clair1311
Randolph1287
Marion12411
Dale1230
Pickens1215
Talladega1175
Limestone1080
Chilton1051
Greene954
Winston910
Macon874
Jackson833
Henry812
Covington811
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia753
Washington726
Blount631
Lawrence510
Monroe452
Geneva440
Perry420
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 24833

Reported Deaths: 388
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Davidson542965
Shelby5428119
Trousdale13944
Rutherford132128
Hamilton93516
Sumner93146
Lake8350
Bledsoe6101
Williamson57711
Putnam5196
Robertson5165
Tipton4593
Wilson4428
Knox4365
Out of TN4264
Bedford2954
Montgomery2833
Rhea2140
Hardeman2010
Madison1732
Bradley1611
Unassigned1610
Macon1583
Loudon1570
McMinn14414
Cheatham1350
Fayette1252
Cumberland1191
Dickson1180
Maury1050
Sevier942
Blount933
Washington750
Coffee740
Monroe692
Wayne640
Gibson631
Sullivan602
Lauderdale591
Hickman580
Dyer570
Franklin541
Greene522
Unicoi480
Obion433
Hamblen432
Marion421
Anderson411
DeKalb380
Smith371
White340
Hawkins342
Marshall331
Lawrence330
Haywood332
Overton320
Cannon320
Grundy311
Henry310
Lincoln290
Jefferson280
Carroll281
Meigs270
Weakley260
Warren260
Perry240
Hardin222
Cocke210
Sequatchie190
Carter191
Johnson190
Jackson190
Polk180
Campbell181
Morgan170
Roane160
Crockett162
Humphreys151
McNairy150
Henderson150
Stewart130
Claiborne120
Chester120
Fentress120
Giles120
Scott120
Grainger110
Clay80
Houston80
Benton71
Moore50
Decatur50
Van Buren40
Union40
Pickett30
Lewis30
Hancock10

 

 

Community Events