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Mattis: 'Self-Defense' Attack Doesn't Mean US Getting Into Syrian Civil War

Mattis: 'Self-Defense' Attack Doesn't Mean US Getting Into Syrian Civil War”

"We estimate more than 100 Syrian pro-regime forces were killed while engaging SDF and coalition forces", a USA military official said on condition of anonymity.The SDF and the coalition targeted the attacking forces with air strikes and shelling after "20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 metres (yards) of the SDF headquarters location", the official said.

Still, some USA troops had been embedded at the time with Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF, whose headquarters in Syria's Deir al-Zor province had been a target of the attack.

The Syrian government has described as brutal the attack of the USA -led International Coalition against the popular militias facing terrorist groups in Deir Ezzor province, televised media reported today.

The Syrian Observatory said they were local tribesmen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and Afghan Shia militiamen.

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White noted one SDF soldier was wounded, and there were no coalition casualties.

Following the incident, the Russian command at the air base of Hmeymim established channels of interaction with representatives of the global coalition headquarters, which stated that the local oil refinery was controlled by the SDF and USA military personnel, the statement said. But the Trump administration's hope for a lessening of hostilities in Syria's larger civil war has not materialized so far, as Turkish, Russian, Iranian and other forces are brought into ever closer proximity as they vie to determine control of and pursue their own long-term interests in Syria.

"We appreciate the Russian Federation's professionalism and regular communication [with its military units deployed to Syria] via the de-confliction line", he noted.

According to a statement on February 7, coalition advisers were with the SDF when it was attacked 8 kilometers east of the Euphrates River deconfliction line in Deir al-Zor Province.

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Those pro-regime vehicles and personnel who retreated across the river were not targeted, the official added.

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

USA defense secretary Jim Mattis also played down the coalition strikes by describing them as defensive and limited in nature, while dismissing claims that the US was stumbling into a broader conflict in Syria, Reuters said. "The incident was caused by uncoordinated reconnaissance and search operations plans of the Syrian militias with the Russian command task force in the locality of Salhiyah".

The U.S. Navy also launched a volley of Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield in April after Assad's troops used chemical weapons against civilians.

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The US has launched rare air strikes in eastern Syria to thwart an attack on allied Kurdish and Arab fighters by forces aligned to Syria's government. The US also shot down a pro-regime drone after it dropped a munition in the vicinity of US troops in Syria.



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