Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

United States airstrike hits pro-Syria government forces for first time

An American airstrike hit pro-Syrian government forces in southern Syria Thursday, as they were setting up fighting positions in a protected area.

The US-led global coalition has confirmed that it struck Syrian pro-regime forces near the Syrian border area of Al-Tanf close to Jordan and Iraq.

A United States defence official told the AFP news agency that the strike did not signal a strategic shift for the coalition, which has focused on battling IS and has tried to avoid intervening in Syria's civil war.

The US launched a direct airstrike against pro-Syrian forces who advanced inside a "de-conflicted zone" even though Russian Federation urged them not to, the Washington-led coalition said.

He said: "We are not increasing our role in the Syrian civil war".

"The Syrian army will not be prevented by any force on earth from continuing its duty in fighting anyone that tries to occupy Syria", the SCMM said.

Western intelligence sources told Reuters that U.S. and British special forces are expanding the Tanf base to oust Islamic State militants from the eastern province of Deir Zor, that straddles Iraq, from the south east of Syria.

The convoy approached a US and coalition complex used to train Syrian forces and got within 29 kilometers of the base around midnight EDT on Thursday, reported CNN.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis later said the airstrike did not signal a growing USA military role in Syria.

Coalition officials said Russian forces had apparently unsuccessfully tried to dissuade the pro-regime movement south.

Syrian activists said the strike destroyed vehicles and left casualties. But they said it was unclear whether that message had been delivered.

US-led coalition aircraft have struck a pro-Assad militia convoy advancing against the At Tanf base near the Syria-Jordan-Iraq border which has been used by the coalition to train Syrian rebels to fight ISIS.

However, the Al Tanf attack raises questions about the ongoing feasibility for the US-led coalition to maintain its singular focus on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

Al-Tanf was attacked previously by the Islamic State.

According to these sources, militia forces loyal to the regime of Bashar Assad crewed the vehicles, not regular Syrian army troops. Martin reports that Syrian forces are pushing eastward towards the Euphrates River Valley, which hints to the idea that the regime may have been doing reconnaissance on their flank.

"Such actions that were carried out against the Syrian armed forces. this is completely unacceptable".

The Iranian proxy is openly hostile to the United States, and has previously attacked American interests. Since then, Tillerson and Trump have called for Assad's exit.

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