US Coalition Strike on Syrian Army Occurred Within Deconfliction Zone
It marked the second time under the Trump administration that the USA has struck out against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces with airstrikes and first in the apparent vicinity of United States troops operating inside Syria.
The presence of regime troops so close to the deconfliction zone in At Tanif “posed a threat to US partner forces”, say command officials.
The report says that the local commander “assessed they posed a threat to coalition forces” and ordered the attack.
The area around al-Tanf has been a source of tensions as both Syrian regime forces and USA -backed rebels advance there trying to rout Daesh terrorist group from the region.
USA -led coalition jets struck a gathering of Syrian government forces deemed a threat to partnered forces on the ground near the Jordanian border, US defense officials confirmed Thursday.
The official described Thursday’s strike as a defensive action that does not change the US policy of focusing military efforts on defeating ISIS. “And that is a coalition element made up of more than just USA troops, and so we will defend ourselves (if) people take aggressive steps against us”.
Two US aircraft were dispatched as a “show of force” to get the Syrian vehicles to turn around.
A Western intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, has said the strike sent a strong message to Iranian-backed militias that they would not be allowed to reach the Iraq border from Syria.
“Coalition forces have been operating in the At Tanf area for many months training and advising vetted partner forces engaged in the fight against ISIS”, according to a statement by the USA -led coalition, using an acronym for Islamic State.
In this long and brutal war, the USA moved to defend its troops and its allies.
With a mission that focuses completely on ISIS, US troops have rarely had to worry about operating in close proximity to Syrian forces and their aligned militias.
U.S. Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he had been working on ways to manage Syria’s messy battlefield with Russian Federation. The last encounter between the groups occurred last month when Syrian troops passed near a special operations group in the Kurdish areas, but that remained peaceful.