United States aircraft strikes pro-Assad forces in Syria

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura attends a meeting during Intra Syria talks in Geneva

The coalition said "apparent" Russian attempts to stop pro-Assad forces from moving towards Tanf, as well as warning shots and a show of force, had failed.

Unlike the U.S. strike against the al-Shayrat air base in March, which the Trump administration ordered in retaliation for a regime chemical weapons attack, Thursday's strike seemed created to protect the United States forces based at Tanf.

A Pentagon official said the Syrian forces, were close to the Jordanian border and posed a threat to coalition partners on the ground. For the second time this year, us forces have committed an act of war against the Syrian government and its allies inside their own country, and there has been no authorization from Congress or the United Nations for any of it.

AFP quoted unnamed U.S. military officials as saying that the American jets struck a convoy of 27 tanks heading towards a garrison in al-Tanf near the Jordanian border.

The strike was the first such close confrontation between US forces and fighters backing President Bashar Assad and the development is likely to increase tensions in the war-torn country.

Later in the day, a tweet from the official account of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) was shared.

Thursday's air strike did not on its own suggest a shift in the US military's focus in Syria, which has been on battling Islamic State militants. The area is called al-Waleed in Iraq.

A French Rafale fighter jet takes off from the deck of France's aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle operating in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on December 9, 2016, as part of an global coalition against the ISIS group.

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The airstrikes were considered to be carried out in "self-defense" given the militias' proximity to a base used by elite U.S. and coalition troops.

Syrian state media provided no precise figures about the number of casualties, but the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said eight people were killed in the attack.

"Such actions that were carried out against the Syrian armed forces... this is completely unacceptable, this is a breach of Syrian sovereignty", Gatilov said.

Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon the strikes were conducted in "self-defense" and were "necessitated by offensive movement with offensive capability of what we believe were Iranian-directed forces".

Syrian on Friday confirmed one of its army points near the southern town of Tanf was attacked, describing the strike as a flagrant attack.

That US attack on the Shayrat air base damaged or destroyed 20 percent of Syria's operational aircraft, as well as fuel and ammunition sites and air defence capabilities, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said at the time.

Tanf has been the target of repeated attacks in recent months.

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