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Military official: U.S. airstrike hits pro-regime forces in Syria

19 May 2017

A USA aircraft conducted an airstrike Thursday on a pro-Assad regime militia convoy that appeared to be moving on a US coalition training base in southeastern Syria, according to a US official.

Since they appeared defensive in nature, Thursday's strikes did not suggest a shift in the USA military's focus in Syria, which has been on battling Islamic State militants.

The U.S. -led coalition operates a training facility there for Syrian opposition forces fighting ISIS.

Last summer, Syrian fighters trained by the US who operated out of al-Tanf were bombed by Russian jets.

"It is illegitimate, unlawful and yet another gross violation of Syria's sovereignty", Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in televised comments while on a trip to Cyprus.

But the Syrian regime and its allies - including Iranian forces, Shiite militia, and Hezbollah - are also based some 40 miles outside Tanf, a rebel commander based there told BuzzFeed News last week, allowing them easy access to Tanf via a highway that cuts through the desert.

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The U.S. -led coalition warplanes on Thursday struck one of the Assad regime's military sites in southern Syria near the border with Jordan.

The coalition is generally not fighting the Syrian government, with the exception of a United States cruise missile strike that was launched in retaliation for Assad's chemical weapons attack against rebels.

"Such actions that were carried out against the Syrian armed forces. this is completely unacceptable".

"The Syrian Arab Army is fighting terrorism on its territory, and no party has the right to determine the course of its operations".

The Syrian Observervatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said eight fighters non-Syrian fighters were killed in the USA attack.

The strike is the second time this year the USA military has targeted Syrian forces. It said four vehicles were also destroyed.

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Syrian state television said a U.S. coalition airstrike had hit "one of our military points".

The US-backed forces in that area are fighting against Islamic State militants.

Assad condemned that us strike on a Syrian airfield as "reckless", "irresponsible" and "short-sighted".

The official statement said that Russian Federation had made "apparent" attempts to "dissuade Syrian pro-regime movement south toward At Tanf", but that those efforts were "unsuccessful".

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said the U.S. will defend its troops in case of "aggressive" steps against them.

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