In what is touted as a self defence move, the US military launched airstrikes on government-backed troops in eastern Syria killing at least 100 in one of the deadliest incidents of its kind. The attacks on regime and allied fighters is seen as a retaliation for an attack in eastern Syria. According to the Associated Foreign Press, the flare-up lasted into the small hours of Thursday and was sparked by an attack on positions held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Deir Ezzor province. The clash came against a backdrop of escalating tensions between Washington and Damascus over an uptick in the suspected use of chemical weapons by the regime and allied militia.
“The coalition conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression. We estimate more than 100 Syrian pro-regime forces were killed while engaging SDF and coalition forces, while one SDF member was wounded. The SDF and the coalition targeted the attacking forces with air and artillery strikes after “20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 metres (yards) of the SDF headquarters location,” a US military official was quoted as saying by AFP.
Russia’s UN ambassador has slammed as “criminal” the US-led coalition strikes against pro-regime forces in Syria that left more than 100 dead. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters that he protested the assault in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor during a closed-door Security Council meeting. “It was inadmissible for whatever reasons it was justified,” Nebenzia told reporters, adding that he told the United States “to remember that they are in Syria illegally in fact. They were not invited there.” According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which only confirmed 20 dead among regime and allied forces, the initial attack took place near Khasham. The town lies along the Euphrates river, southeast of the provincial capital of Deir Ezzor. “Regime forces struck SDF positions in several villages and an oil field with artillery fire,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring group, said. “The SDF responded with artillery fire on regime positions in the town of Khasham before the intervention of coalition forces,” he said.