Pro-government forces attack US, Kurdish troops in eastern Syria

Syrian fighters and their trainers attend a graduation ceremony at the end of a US-led training program | Delil Souleiman  AFP via Getty Images

Syrian fighters and their trainers attend a graduation ceremony at the end of a US-led training program | Delil Souleiman AFP via Getty Images

US-led coalition forces say they killed up to 100 militants loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in an overnight air strike in retaliation for an attack on their Kurdish and Arab allies.

Some 300 pro-government forces attacked an SDF headquarters near Deir el-Zour, Syria, Wednesday but retreated after the USA -led coalition knocked out their artillery and two of their tanks, Mattis said.

According to the coalition statement, an estimated 500 regime troops carried out the initial attack using Russian-made tanks "in what appears to be a coordinated attack on Syrian Democratic Forces", a USA military official told CNN.

"In defense of coalition and partner forces, the coalition conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression against partners engaged" in the fight against Islamic State (IS) extremists, the statement said.

The targeted air and artillery strikes killed an estimated 100 pro-regime forces, the official said.

Some 500 fighters had tried take ground captured from the Islamic State (IS) group by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

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

Regime forces were likely attempting to take an oilfield near Khusham.

This is a line that the coalition and the Syrian regime has agreed to and which their forces are not supposed to cross so as to prevent any conflicts.

No U.S. casualties were reported after the confrontation. Russian Federation said it did not have personnel in the area, and its defense ministry said it only confirmed 25 Syrian militia were wounded, and no deaths.

According to Igor Girkin, an ex-commander of Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, two tactical units of the Wagner private military group had been hit by the USA strikes on February 7.

Nevertheless, he declined to answer questions on whether there were any new contacts between the Russian and United States militaries in connection with the shelling of Syrian pro-government forces by the coalition near the inhabited community of Khusham.

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On the night of April 6-7, the U.S. military hits back by firing 59 Tomahawk missiles from warships in the Mediterranean at the central Shayrat airbase, which it says was the launchpad for the chemical attack. One SDF fighter was injured, the USA officials said.

He reported that Russian officials said they wouldn't engage coalition forces in the area of the attack.

The Wagner Group is a paramilitary contract force similar to the former U.S. Blackwater company that became infamous in the Iraq War.

Of course, the "rightful owners" are the coalition of Arab and Kurdish fighters who have already shed their blood for that territory against ISIS - a point apparently lost on a once-trusted US ally now hardly worthy of that name.

In June previous year, a U.S. Navy jet shot down a Syrian plane after it attacked U.S. -backed fighters on the ground. But that's been a challenging line for the U.S.to walk as human rights violations stack up against Assad and as his regime's forces threaten USA troops and their allies.

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