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Led Coalition airstrikes kill 100 Assad-backed forces in Syria

11 February 2018

The river has always been a dividing line between USA -backed forces and Russian- or Iranian-backed fighters of the Assad regime.

The Syrian Observatory said those involved and killed by the strikes were tribesmen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and Shia militias of Afghanistan.

The government of El Asad, which has repeatedly accused United States of exceeding its support for its rebel allies, has not reported on this occasion incident to which coalition has referred.

In a letter addressed to the United Nations secretary-general, the Syrian Foreign Ministry described the strike a "war crime" and called for the coalition to be dismantled, Syrian state news agency Sana said.

"The recent incident once again shows that the United States' illegal military presence in Syria is actually aimed at taking control of the country's economic assets and not at fighting against the ISIS worldwide terror group", said a statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry.

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"Forces supported by the coalition targeted the aggressors with a combination of air and artillery strikes", said Army Col. Thomas Veale, a spokesman for the US -led coalition in Syria and Iraq.

The targeted air and artillery strikes killed an estimated 100 pro-regime forces, the official said.

The forces were "likely seeking to seize oilfields in Khusham that had been a major source of revenue for Daesh [ISIS] from 2014 to 2017", added the official.

The U.S. -led coalition was set up in 2014 to battle Islamic State fighters in both Syria and Iraq, who were largely defeated a year ago. The flare-up lasted into the small hours on Thursday and was sparked by an attack on positions held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Deir Ezzor province.

Overnight on Thursday, the US-coalition coalition attacked Syrian pro-government armed groups who were on a reconnaissance and a search mission near the former Al-Isba oil refinery.

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Officials said no US troops were injured or killed.

We have heard such statements before. Moscow's defense ministry said the US was more interested in seizing Syrian economic assets rather than driving out the Islamic State Group from its last major stronghold.

The US authorities added that the Syrian government forces organized and executed an attack on the Syrian Democratic forces without any form of provocation near the Khusham town on Wednesday this week.

The Trump administration last month, however, announced a new Syria strategy that envisages USA troops remaining in eastern Syria until there is peace and President Bashar al-Assad is ousted.

Syria's regime and pro-Assad Russia were furious with the strikes.

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Pro-government forces had used Russian-designed T-55 and T-72 tanks to shoot at the SDF, Lt. Col. Earl Brown, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, told VOA. Roughly a battalion of pro-regime forces launched what appeared to be a coordinated attacks supported by D-30 howitzers, Soviet-era T-54 and T-72 tanks, rockets and mortars, he said. "That's what those troops were doing - coordinating strikes against ISIS", Mr. Mattis said.

Led Coalition airstrikes kill 100 Assad-backed forces in Syria