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19 May 2017, 10:39 | Darnell Patrick
The U.S. -led coalition in Iraq and Syria conducted airstrikes against forces loyal to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad near At Tanf, a restive area on the country's southern border with Iraq and Jordan, on May 18, defense officials told multiple media outlets.
The army in a statement said the US-led anti-terror coalition attacked one of the military positions near the Tanf area on Thursday, leaving many personnel dead and causing some material losses, Xinhua news agency reported.
The attack was the first close confrontation between us forces and fighters backing President Bashar Assad.
The strike was near a base in An Tanf used by the US-led coalition to train "Vetted Syrian Opposition" to aid the fight against ISIS.
"This was despite #Russian attempts to dissuade pro-regime movement towards At Tanf, #Coalition aircraft show of force, & warning shots", Operation Inherent Resolve said in a tweet. US aircraft attempted to buzz the regime, but when the convoy did not turn around, they conducted a strike against some of the vehicles.
Still, the strikes would be the first against fighters aligned with Syria's Government since the United States waged cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base in April.
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A member of the US -backed Syrian rebel forces told Reuters the convoy comprised Syrian and Iranian-backed militias and was headed toward the Tanf base when they clashed with some rebel forces. But the Russians and pro-regime forces apparently ignored warnings, and the United States then hit the convoy with a direct airstrike.
There can be no justification for the USA coalition's strike on the Syrian Army positions, the Defense Ministry stressed, adding that the attack "shows the real goals" of the coalition.
Asked if the move signaled a broadening of U.S. involvement in the six-year Syrian civil war, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said, "We are not increasing our role in the Syrian civil war, but we will defend our troops". Al-Tanf came under attack by ISIS in April and Russian aircraft bombed the base last summer.
Syria has condemned the strike as a "brazen attack" that undermined claims the alliance is fighting extremists.
Russian Federation tried multiple times to contact the Syrian forces, the official said.
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