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Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

USA airstrike hits pro-regime forces in Syria — Military official

USA airstrike hits pro-regime forces in Syria — Military official

A US airstrike struck pro-Syrian government forces that the coalition said posed a threat to American troops and allied rebels operating near the border with Jordan on Thursday, the first such close confrontation between USA forces and fighters backing President Bashar Assad.

"This was despite Russian attempts to dissuade pro-regime movement towards al Tanf, coalition aircraft show of force and warning shots".

Syrian regime forces occupying five vehicles were targeted by United States airstrikes after breaching a "de-confliction zone", a USA official told CNN Thursday.

The "defensive" strike was also an apparent signal to Assad to keep his forces out of a zone where USA -backed rebels are fighting the Islamic State group.

A member of the USA -backed Syrian rebel forces told Reuters the strikes hit a convoy of Syrian and Iranian-backed militias that were heading toward a base used by US and U.S. -supported forces. The officials weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

But the Syrian regime and its allies - including Iranian forces, Shiite militia, and Hezbollah - are also based some 40 miles outside Tanf, a rebel commander based there told BuzzFeed News last week, allowing them easy access to Tanf via a highway that cuts through the desert.

One opposition media group, the Palmyra News Network, says the attack at the Zarka juncture, about 27 kilometres from the border, destroyed a number of vehicles and led to casualties. The Special Forces are training the rebels to fight ISIS - and also accompanying them on combat missions against the militants.

Syrian municipality workers remove rubble from a main street at the mountain resort town of Zabadani in the Damascus countryside Thursday.

The Revolutionary commandos, or Maghaweer al-Thawra, a US -backed group, shared a report about the airstrike on their Twitter account.

The Syrian conflict has proved stubbornly resistant to worldwide efforts to find a political solution, but a new round of UN-sponsored talks are underway this week in Geneva.

The office of Staffan de Mistura said Thursday there would be an expert-level meeting with representatives of the Syrian government delegation "on issues and ideas on constitutional process".

The U.S. -led coalition is battling the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, in Syria and is generally not attacking Assad.

The attacks come as goverment forces are on the offensive against the extremists in other parts of Syria, mostly in the northern province of Aleppo and the central Homs region and to the east. It said troops launched a counteroffensive under the cover of airstrikes.

Earlier on Thursday, Iran's Fars news agency, which is linked to the country's powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps, claimed 3,000 members of Hezbollah had been moved to al-Tanf to combat a U.S. plot.

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