Led coalition airstrikes targeted pro-Syrian regime forces

19 May 2017, 05:07 | Isaac Mcdaniel

Syria's conflict has killed more than 320,000 people and displaced millions Mohamad ABAZEED

Syria's conflict has killed more than 320,000 people and displaced millions Mohamad ABAZEED

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 U.S. special forces are based, reports say.

US-led warplanes hit a pro-regime convoy in Syria that ignored warning shots, weeks after President Donald Trump's administration launched America's first strikes against Damascus forces in the war-torn country. When the forces did not respond, the commander called for an airstrike.

A US defense official confirmed to Stars and Stripes that the fighter jets hit pro-regime forces because these forces were viewed as a threat to "U.S. partners" close to Jordan, a long-standing USA ally.

The coalition statement late on Thursday says the coalition hit the pro-Syrian government forces after warning shots, a show of force and similar efforts by Russian Federation failed to dissuade those troops from moving into the "de-conflicted area".

The first official said the convoy was "significant" in size, but only the lead vehicles were hit.

The officials say the strike near Tanf hit a tank and a bulldozer and forces there, but it was not clear if they were Syrian army troops or other pro-government allies.

There is a Syrian regime base nearby, the official said, adding that forces there are equipping to handle about a battalion's worth of troops.

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The Tanf base is located near the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan.

Regional intelligence sources and rebels say the ultimate goal of the Syrian army's push in the Badia was to link its forces with Iraq's Shi'ite paramilitary groups on the other side of the border.

The reports gave different death tolls for the IS attack on the village of Aqarab al-Safiyeh in central Syria.

Control of Hama province is divided between the government, rebel forces and IS, which is present mostly in the east of the area.

It said IS fighters had mutilated the bodies of villagers and looted their homes, and said 15 of the dead were children.

The envoy's office said his team also met separately on Thursday with opposition experts on constitutional and legal issues.

The United States has been militarily involved in Syria since 2014, but has for the most part avoided engaging directly in the conflict. It identified residents as members of Assad's Alawite sect, an off-shoot of Shiite Islam.



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