Syria conflict: US in rare counter-strike after Deir al-Zour attack

February 8, 2018

Washington (TNS): The US has launched rare air strikes in eastern Syria to thwart an attack on allied Kurdish and Arab fighters by forces aligned to Syria’s government.

Up to 100 pro-government fighters were killed, US military officials say.

Some 500 fighters had tried take ground captured from the Islamic State (IS) group by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

SDF and government forces control areas on either side of the River Euphrates in Deir al-Zour province.

Some US forces are embedded with the SDF but they suffered no casualties. One SDF fighter was injured, the US officials said.

The pro-government forces had been backed by artillery, tanks and other heavy weaponry when they attacked an SDF headquarters “eight kilometres [5 miles] east of the agreed-upon Euphrates River de-confliction line”, US officials said.

SDF forces responded with artillery and called in US air strikes.

The US insisted the actions were a self-defensive measure and the attackers were not pursued once they were driven off.