MidEast

U.S. Planes Strike Pro-Assad Convoy in Southern Syria

American fighter jets on Thursday struck a convoy of forces loyal to the Syrian regime that approached a base where U.S. and British forces are training Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State, VOA News reported.

The pro-regime convoy had come within 18 miles the al-Tanf base, which houses U.S. and British special forces in southern Syria, and breached the “deconfliction zone” around the base. The deconfliction zones were established by the U.S. and Russia in order to reduce the likelihood of accidental military encounters.

After a convoy of about twenty vehicles including tanks and bulldozers entered the deconfliction zone, U.S aircraft fired warning shots. The U.S. military also contacted Russia through a hotline established to facilitate communications and urged it to prevail upon Syria to leave. The Syrian forces, however, did not budge.

“After that, we couldn’t do much else,” U.S. Central Command spokesman Major Josh Jacques told VOA. “They had every opportunity to leave the area.”

According to Jacques, while the U.S. hit a Syrian tank and two bulldozers, the convoy has still not fully retreated from the deconfliction zone.

This was the third attack by American forces against Assad’s military in recent months, The New York Times reported.

In 2016, American forces launched a strike against Syrian forces that was later deemed an accident. Last month, the U.S. fired 50 cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield, following a chemical weapons attack by the regime against civilians.

Forces fighting ISIS are moving towards southern Syria “to defeat the group and to occupy the power vacuum that its defeat would leave,” according to the Times. The deconfliction zone in southern Syria was established “where the United States, Jordan and Israel are eager to prevent Iranian-backed groups, especially Hezbollah, from expanding a foothold.”

[Photo: PACAF / Flickr ]