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

United States warplanes strike Syrian pro-government militia convoy


US-led coalition jets have launched air strikes in Syria, hitting convoy of Syrian and Iranian-backed militias that were heading towards the Tanf base in southern Syria where USA special forces are based, reports say.

A Syrian military official said Friday that an airstrike by the USA -led coalition on a government military position near the border with Jordan had killed several soldiers and caused material damage.

It's been publicly known for almost a year that USA special operations forces operate out of the base, near where the borders of Jordan, Iraq and Syria meet, training Syrian rebels in their fight against Islamic State militants.

The US-led coalition said that, ahead of the air strikes, a telephone call had been put into the Russian military, which backs President Bashar al-Assad.

"The Syrian army is fighting terrorist groups on its ground, and no force has the right to determine the fronts on which the army fight the terrorist groups", the statement said. "Any military actions that lead to a deterioration in the situation in Syria obviously impact the political process", deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov was quoted as saying by state-run RIA Novosti in Geneva.

Since they appeared defensive in nature, Thursday's strikes did not suggest a shift in the USA military's focus in Syria, which has been on battling Islamic State militants.

The US-led coalition commander first attempted to get the pro-Assad forces out of the zone by dispatching two US aircraft as "a show of force".

"A convoy going down the road didn't respond to numerous ways for it to be warned off from getting too close to coalition forces in At-Tanf", an unnamed official told AFP.

A CNN reporter in Washington that was briefed by U.S. officials said a convoy of 20 pro-regime vehicles was headed toward Al-Tanf on Wednesday vehicles, searching vehicles and buildings along the way.

This is the second time the United States has attacked directly forces of the Assad regime in Syria.

The bombing targeted Syrian "pro-regime forces that were advancing well inside an established de-confliction zone northwest of At Tanf, Syria", the command of Operation Inherent Resolve said.

The rebels being trained at al-Tanf are from a number of Arab rebel groups, referred to by the U.S.as Vetted Syrian Opposition, or VSO, who oppose both the Assad regime and ISIS.

"The flagrant attack by the US-led coalition on Syrian army posts in Tanf exposes the real scheme by USA and Zionist entity against Syria", the source said.

Defense Secretary James Mattis insisted the strikes do not represent a change in USA policy, but said US troops will defend themselves and partnered forces.

Syria's ally Russia said the strike had hit civilians and was unacceptable, Russian news agencies reported.

The US military launched the attack against a convoy of the Syrian military heading towards the border near Jordan where Daesh terrorists are based.

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