Syrian Pro-Regime Forces Attack Prompts Coalition Defensive Strikes

US fighter jets were involved in raids against Syrian regime forces on Wednesday. Bram Janssen  AP

"We estimate more than 100 Syrian pro-regime forces were killed while engaging SDF and coalition forces", while one SDF member was wounded, a U.S. military official said on condition of anonymity.

The incident marks one of a limited number of times in which the United States has struck out directly at forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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

Following the siege on Raqqa, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that U.S. forces would focus on diplomacy and that they "won't just walk away" from efforts to stabilize the region.

U.S. military officials said the attacks, which began late on Wednesday, were conducted to "repel acts of aggression".

Between 20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500m of the headquarters, where coalition advisers are working with SDF fighters battling Islamic State militants east of the Euphrates River in Syria.

The coalition said the attack occurred around 8 kilometres (5 miles) "east of the Euphrates River de-confliction line in Khusham", a town southeast of the provincial capital Deir al-Zor city.




The Euphrates, which flows through northeastern Syria, functions as a demarcation line separating the American-backed SDF and forces of the Bashar Assad regime backed by Russian Federation and Iran who are active around the city of Deir el-Zour.

Officials say the US was in with Russian counterparts during and after the attack and were assured that Russia would not engage coalition forces in the vicinity.

"The coalition conducted strikes against attacking forces to repeal the act of aggression", it said. Officials declined to say whether the airstrikes were conducted with manned or unmanned aircraft.

The U.S. maintains about 2,000 troops in the country.

More than 100 fighters aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were killed overnight when US coalition and coalition-backed local forces repelled their attack in eastern Syria, a USA official said on Thursday.

"Daesh" is the Arabic acronym for Islamic State. The official spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity. "It's not always readily apparent" what sort of forces they are maneuvering on the ground in Syria's crowded battlespace, he said.

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