Syrian Pro-Regime Forces Attack Prompts Coalition Defensive Strikes

US military strikes pro-regime forces in Syria after coming under attack

US military strikes pro-regime forces in Syria after coming under attack

The US-led coalition conducted defensive airstrikes against pro-government forces in Syria that attacked Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters near the Euphrates River, US Central Command said in a press release Wednesday.

A military official, who provided information about the attack on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it on the record, said the attacking forces initiated the assault by lobbing artillery at the SDF and USA forces, who were located eight miles east of the Euphrates River.

"Syrian pro-regime forces initiated an unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters February 7", the release said.

According to the statement, the strike came after "Syrian pro-regime forces initiated an unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) headquarters on February 7". The U.S. -led coalition did not say whether any pro-Syrian fighters were killed in the retaliatory strike.

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Another US official who spoke to CNN said it was unclear exactly who the pro-regime forces were but that the US is looking into whether Russian contractors operating in the vicinity might have been involved.

USA -backed forces retook the Islamic State terror group's de facto capital, Raqqa, last October. Syrian government forces are active on the other side of the river around the city of Deir el-Zour.

United States forces reportedly responded to an "unprovoked attack" by Syrian pro-regime forces with airstrikes.

The heavy death toll underscored the large size of the attack, which the US official said included about 500 opposing forces, backed by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars.

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No American troops were killed or wounded in the incident, officials said.

The Syrian army is backed by Iranian-backed militias and Russian forces. Any of the attacking vehicles and personnel who turned around and headed back west were not targeted, the military official said.

The official said it appeared the pro-government forces were trying to reassert government control of areas that the SDF troops had seized from the Islamic State past year, and possibly to capture oilfields in the area.

It's not the first time USA -led forces in the country primarily to hunt ISIS have targeted pro-Assad forces in self-defense.

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