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U.S. airstrike targets pro-Syrianforces; dozens killed

By in Press Enterprise on February 8, 2018

By The Associated Press

By SARAH EL DEEB

BEIRUT — Syrian state-run media on Thursday confirmed a rare U.S. strike on government-backed troops in eastern Syria, citing reports of dozens killed and wounded from the attack.

The overnight attack, which a U.S. military official earlier said killed about 100, adds another layer to a conflict in Syria that is once again plunging into a new unpredictable spiral of violence.

The U.S. official said the U.S. launched the airstrikes after as many as 500 attackers began what appeared to be a coordinated assault on U.S.-backed forces known as the Syrian Democratic Forces who were accompanied by U.S. advisers in Deir el-Zour province.

The official said the strikes were in self-defense after the pro-government forces began firing artillery and tank rounds at the SDF. About 100 of the attackers were killed, the official said.

It was a rare U.S. strike against forces that support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Syria’s state media said the U.S.-led coalition bombed government-backed troops in Khusham, a town in the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province, describing them as tribal fighters. The media cited reports of dozens killed and wounded.

The official state news agency SANA said the local fighters were battling Islamic State militants and the U.S.-backed SDF in the area.

SANA labeled it an “aggression” and a “new massacre.”

The U.S.-led coalition said in a statement said the attack took place 8 kilometers (5 miles) east of the Euphrates River de-confliction line. The United States and Russia, which back rival forces in the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province, have kept close contacts to avoid friction.

The statement suggested the coalition was calling out Russia on the assault, but it stopped short of actually laying the blame.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria, said Deir el-Zour province continues to witness tensions following the foiled attack and the […]    

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