The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) said the strike happened Thursday when pro-regime forces advanced in a “de-confliction zone” and posed a threat to coalition-backed forces.
“This was despite #Russian attempts to dissuade pro-regime movement towards At Tanf, #Coalition aircraft show of force, & warning shots,” Operation Inherent Resolve said in a tweet.
— Inherent Resolve (@CJTFOIR) 18 мая 2017 г.
In a four-sentence statement, the coalition added that the pro-regime forces were “well inside” an “established” zone.
“Coalition forces have been operating in the At Tanf area for many months training and advising vetted partner forces engaged in the fight against ISIS,” the statement said. “The agreed upon de-confliction zone agreement remains in effect.”
The statement does specify which pro-regime militia was struck nor what the damage of the strike was.
An official from a U.S.-backed rebel group told Reuters the bombing happened after his group clashed with the militia.
“We notified the coalition that we were being attacked by the Syrian army and Iranians in this point and the coalition came and destroyed the advancing convoy,” Muzahem al Saloum, from the Maghawir al Thwra group, said, according to Reuters.
The strike will likely reignite debate about U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war that had raged after President Trump ordered a cruise missile strike against a regime airfield last month.
That strike was in response to a sarin gas attack against civilians U.S. officials say was carried out by forces loyal to Assad. It was the first time the U.S. military directly intervened in the Syrian civil war.
At the time, administration officials insisted the airfield strike did not represent a change in U.S. strategy toward Syria, which has largely focused on the fight against ISIS. Still, the strike prompted debate among lawmakers about the U.S. role in the war and whether it was time for Congress to take up a new war authorization.
Though details of Thursday’s strike remain hazy, Trump critics in Congress were already skeptical of the action.