United States coalition conducts airstrikes against Syrian regime troops

US-led coalition conducts ‘defensive’ airstrikes against Syrian forces

The US-led coalition battling the Islamic State group announced Wednesday it had carried out defensive strikes in the eastern Deir Ezzor region against Syrian pro-regime forces.

Neither U.S. officials nor the U.S. -backed coalition have offered details on the attacking forces.

Artillery and tank rounds were used by pro-Bashar Assad soldiers against the US-backed Syria Democratic Forces on Wednesday.

In response, the coalition "conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression", the statement added.

Officials said it appeared that the pro-regime forces were trying to take back land that the SDF had liberated from IS fighters last September, including oil fields in Khusham.

One Syrian rebel soldier was wounded but no US forces were killed or wounded, according to NPR's Tom Bowman, who is reporting from elsewhere in Syria.

On May 18, they attacked pro-regime forces that continued approaching coalition troops despite warning shots and Russian attempts to halt the troops.

The attack took place in the Middle Euphrates River Valley eight kilometers east of a negotiated "de-confliction line" meant to separate Russian-allied regime forces and US -allied resistance fighters, according to Central Command.

No coalition or USA personnel were killed or injured, CNN quoted the coalition as saying.

The official said it appeared the pro-government forces were trying to reassert government control of areas that the SDF troops had seized from the Islamic State a year ago, and possibly to capture oilfields in the area.

They have not ruled out that Iranian backed-forces might have also been involved in the attack, this official said.

The US military official said the coalition had informed Russian Federation of the presence of pro-regime forces in the area before the attack via a hotline established as part of the de-confliction line, adding that the coalition had observed a buildup of pro-regime troops over the past week.

The coalition remains committed to focusing on that mission in the Middle Euphrates River Valley and asserts its non-negotiable right to act in self-defense, officials said. "Russian officials assured Coalition officials they would not engage Coalition forces in the vicinity".

The U.S. maintains about 2,000 troops in the country.

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