US Airstrikes Hit Pro-Syrian Fighters After ‘Unprovoked Attack’
U.S. military officials say coalition airstrikes in northern Syria killed about 100 pro-government fighters who were part of an attack on U.S.-backed opposition forces.
The U.S.-led coalition said the pro-government fighters carried out an “unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters.”
U.S. personnel have been advising and assisting the SDF, and some were embedded with them at the time of the attack in Deir el-Zour province.
The officials said no Americans were hurt, while one SDF member was wounded in the assault that was backed by artillery, tanks and rocket-launching systems.
The attack appeared to be an attempt by the pro-government fighters to take control of areas the SDF recaptured from Islamic State militants in September, the officials added.
Syrian state media said the coalition airstrikes hit tribal fighters who were battling Islamic State and SDF forces. The reports called the strikes an “aggression” and said they killed dozens of people.
A coalition statement emphasized its mission to combat Islamic State while asserting “its non-negotiable right to act in self-defense.”
U.S. forces began airstrikes in Syria in September 2014 after the militants swept into control of large areas in the eastern part of the country as well as northern and western Iraq.
A year later, Russia joined the fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
U.S. military officials said the coalition was in contact with Russia before, during and after Wednesday’s attack, and had alerted Russia to the presence of SDF forces in that area.