US-led strike on regime positions kills 12 in east Syria
A U.S.-led coalition air strike on Syrian army positions overnight killed at least 12 pro-regime fighters in an area where both sides have been battling holdout jihadists, a monitor said on May 24.
Syrian state media reported the strike but said it only caused material damage, while the Pentagon said it had “no information to substantiate those reports.”
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a broad network of sources across Syria, said the raid had hit army positions south of Albu Kamal, a town on Syria’s border with Iraq.
“At least three vehicles were destroyed by the strike,” said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.
He said the 12 pro-regime fighters killed in the incident were not Syrians, but he could not provide more details on their identity.
A military source quoted by state news agency SANA said that “some of our military positions between Albu Kamal and Hmeimeh were hit this morning in an aggression by American coalition warplanes.”
Albu Kamal and Hmeimeh lie in Syria’s eastern Deir Ezzor province, where Russian-backed Syrian troops and the U.S.-led coalition have been waging separate offensives against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
A “de-confliction” line in place along the Euphrates River since last year is meant to keep the two assaults from crashing into each other.
Loyalist troops are present west of the river while the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) dominated by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey views as terrorists due to its ties with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), are on the east.
A military source from forces allied to Syria’s government said the strikes had targeted two regime military positions near a frontline with ISIL.
“There are no Iranian or Lebanese fighters among the dead,” the source said.
Iraqi Shiite militia are also fighting alongside Syrian regime forces in the area.
The Observatory said the government was sending reinforcements.
It was not immediately clear whether jihadists were active in the area at the time, nor whether the pro-regime casualties may have been accidental.
The coalition has carried out several deadly strikes against Syrian government forces and allied fighters in recent months.