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US-led Coalition airstrikes kill 100 Assad-backed forces in Syria

An air strike is called in on a suspected insurgent hideout at the edge of Fallujah, Iraq by U.S. Marines assigned K Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, during the opening hours of Operation Phantom Fury. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. James J. Vooris)
February 08, 2018

The U.S.-led coalition in Syria killed an estimated 100 pro-regime fighters under Bashar Assad in Syria on Wednesday, according to the Coalition.

The strikes were carried out in self-defense, according to officials, who said the strikes were conducted after 500 pro-regime troops “initiated an unprovoked attack” against a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) headquarters where Coalition service members were located.

Inherent Resolve (Twitter)

The attack on the headquarters appeared “to be a coordinated attack on Syrian Democratic Forces approximately 8 kilometers east of the Euphrates River de-confliction line in Khusham, Syria,” Col. Thomas Veale, a public affairs officer for the Inherent Resolve Soalition, told Military Times.

The pro-regime troops used mortar fire, artillery, and T-55 and T-72 main battle tanks with support from multiple-launch rocket systems to carry out the attack.  Roughly “20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 meters” of the headquarters before the U.S.-led coalition carried out strikes in self-defense.

No U.S.-led coalition forces were injured in the attack, but one SDF member was wounded.

“We suspect Syrian pro-regime forces were attempting to seize terrain SDF had liberated from Daesh in September 2017,” Veale told Military Times. “[Pro-regime forces] were likely seeking to seize oilfields in Khusham that had been a major source of revenue for Daesh from 2014 to 2017.”

Khusha is five miles east of the de-confliction line that separates Russian-backed and U.S.-backed forces in Syria.

“We also cannot speculate on the exact make-up of the Syrian pro-regime forces who conducted the attack at this time,” Veale said.

The U.S.-led coalition said it was aware of a pro-regime build-up over the past week and informed Russia of that build-up.

“Coalition officials were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the thwarted (pro-regime forces) attack,” Veale said. “Russian officials assured Coalition officials they would not engage Coalition forces in the vicinity.”

There are roughly 2,000 U.S. troops operating in Syria, mostly with SDF forces fighting ISIS.