Led coalition hits pro-Assad fighters' convoy

JULY 24 2013 FILE

JULY 24 2013 FILE

The coalition said Thursday's airstrike was launched because the Syrian forces posed a direct threat to United States and allied rebel forces by advancing into the de-confliction zone near Al Tanf despite "apparent attempts" by their Russian backers to dissuade them, as well as a "show of force" from coalition aircraft and the firing of warning shots.

According to US military commanders, the strike was carried out in response to the entry of the regime-allied forces into a "de-escalation zone" in which USA and allied forces were operating.

The incident took place as pro-government forces reportedly entered one of the recently implemented de-escalation zones in Homs province, where they allegedly clashed with the US-backed Maghawir Al-Thawra militant group (formerly known as "New Syrian Army").

Meanwhile, a military source said the strike reveals the real scheme by the U.S. and Zionist entity against Syria.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, who the agencies said was speaking in Geneva, said the US strike had violated Syria's sovereignty and would not help efforts to find a political solution to the conflict.

Separately, Syria's military supported by Russian Federation and Iranian-backed militias are fighting against the militant group only sporadically, preferring to instead focus their efforts against pro-democracy rebel factions across the country.

Such deliberate airstrikes against pro-regime forces are extremely rare, with the last such strike being carried out in April in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons. The Syrian military official clarified on Friday that the area attacked was a military position along Tanf highway in the desert. This is totally unacceptable; it is a violation of Syrian sovereignty.

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The airstrike occurred after a convoy of pro-Assad militia forces appeared to be headed toward at-Tanf, a town located near Syria's southeastern border with Iraq, according to the USA official.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strike killed eight militiamen, and a Syrian opposition media group, the Palmyra News Network, also said there were casualties from the attack. According to reports, the strikes were originally intended as a show of force to deter a 20-vehicle pro-regime convoy from heading toward the base.

He was asked if the airstrike increases the U.S. role in the Syrian war.

"A convoy going down the road didn't respond to numerous ways for it to be warned off from getting too close to coalition forces in Al Tanaf", added the official.

Russian Federation condemned the strike as "illegitimate" and said it could harm efforts to fight Islamic State group (IS) jihadists.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said America's role in Syria's conflict was unchanged.

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