Syria news: U.S. coalition kills 100 fighters in air and artillery strikes

An armoured fighting vehicle of the Syrian Democratic Forces manoeuvres at the frontline in Raqqa. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Last Wednesday, a U.S.-led coalition with defensive air and artillery strikes against the pro-regime forces in Syria killed an estimated 100 pro-regime soldiers.

The strikes inflicted what could be the largest number casualties that the coalition has exacted against the pro-regime forces. According to Syria’s state news agency, the attack left scores of dead and injured people, while causing massive damage to the area.

The attack was reportedly carried out in self-defense after Syrian government forces initiated an “unprovoked” offensive against the headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is working with coalition advisers to battle the pro-regime forces.

According to the coalition, around 500 pro-regime soldiers attacked the Syrian Democratic forces using artillery, mortar, and Russian-made tanks. The offensive was described by US Army Col. Thomas Veale, a spokesman for the US-led coalition, as a coordinated attack against the U.S.-backed forces.

Around 20 to 30 rounds from artillery and tanks landed within 500 meters of the Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters before the coalition returned fire with a combination of artillery fire and air strikes.

The coalition’s counter-offensive involved F-22 stealth jets, F-15 fighters, and MQ-9 drones, as well as a U.S. High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

“Along with ground-based fire support, these aircraft released multiple precision fire munitions and conducted strafing runs against the aggressor force, stopping their advance and destroying multiple artillery pieces and tanks,” said Lt. Col. Damien Pickart.

Reacting to the U.S.-led coalition’s counterattack, a Russian senator called the move “an unprecedented act of aggression.”

“The actions of the U.S. coalition do not comply with legal norms. Beyond all doubt, it is an unprecedented act of aggression,” said Frants Klintsevich, first deputy chairman of Moscow’s upper house defense committee.

Meanwhile, the United States quickly tried to put down fears that the nation could be involved in a larger conflict in Syria. However, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis dismissed the concerns, emphasizing that the actions of the coalition were done in self-defense.