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

It's been publicly known for almost a year that USA special operations forces operate out of the base, near where the borders of Jordan, Iraq and Syria meet, training Syrian rebels in their fight against Islamic State militants.

A bulldozer and a tank were hit, but USA officials said it was unclear on Thursday whether they had struck the Syrian army or just militias allied with the government. The attack occurred near a "de-escalation zone" near the al-Tanf border crossing between Syria and Jordan. The presence of regime troops so close to the deconfliction zone in At Tanif "posed a threat to US partner forces", say command officials.

That thinking changed in April with the missile strike fired against Assad's air force in response to Assad's deadly chemical weapons attack.

While officials stressed the defensive strike did not signal deepening USA involvement in Syria's civil war, it nonetheless raises questions about the ongoing feasibility for the coalition to maintain its singular focus on the so-called Islamic State group.

'This is not only an attack in Syria and against Syria, but also against Geneva [negotiations].

A U.S. military strike in Syria on Thursday was "government terrorism" and caused a massacre, Syrian government negotiator Bashar al-Ja'afari said on Friday.

The April 7 U.S. strike against Syria's regime was carried out with 59 cruise missiles launched from two destroyers in the Mediterranean, and targeted the Shayrat Airfield in Homs province in Western Syria.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began following anti-government demonstrations in 2011. Since then it has seen massive worldwide involvement and the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and has resulted in almost 500,000 casualties, over 4 million refugees, and over 7 million internally displaced people.

US-led coalition jets have launched air strikes in Syria, hitting convoy of Syrian and Iranian-backed militias that were heading towards the Tanf base in southern Syria where U.S. special forces are based, reports say.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon refuels from a 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Feb. 15, 2017.

The Syrian Army on Friday confirmed reports about a US-led airstrike on a military convoy near the Iraqi border, saying Washington's attempt will not terrorize the army from continuing to fight the terrorist groups.

Yehya al-Aridi, a spokesman for the foreign-backed opposition High Negotiations Committee holding talks with a Syrian government delegation in Geneva, welcomed the U.S. strike as a "robust action" against Damascus. Last week, BuzzFeed reported that USA special forces have been increasingly fighting alongside these rebel groups in Southern Syria, a region that has seen an increasing amount of ISIS activity as the group has lost territory elsewhere.

The safe zones agreement in Syria came into effect this month.

The United States has led a coalition bombing IS in Syria since 2014, but in the past has avoided engaging with Syria or Iranian-backed forces battling rebel forces there.

It was the first close confrontation between the USA military and forces supporting Mr Assad.

Earlier today, pro-Iranian government media outlets had reported that 3,000 Hezbollah fighters were deployed to the Al-Tanf region to protect the area from "US interests".

It quotes another United States official as saying that a convoy of 20 pro-regime vehicles were headed toward At Tanf on Wednesday night, searching vehicles and buildings along the way. Twenty-seven regime vehicles had driven within 18 miles of the base - violating of the 34 mile radius of the deconfliction zone.

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