MESOP NEWS Syria Daily: US — 100+ Pro-Assad Fighters Killed in Attack on Kurdish-Led SDF

By Scott lucas – eaworldview – 8Febr 2018 – More than 100 pro-Assad fighters have been killed in eastern Syria after they launched a large attack on the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, according to an American official.After months of a frontline with the SDF in Deir ez-Zor Province, following the defeat of Islamic State units, the pro-Assad force carried out its first major attack late Wednesday and early Thursday. The US official said 500 opposing forces, backed by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems, and mortars were involved. The official simply said that US-led coalition and local forces repelled the assault. However, US Central Command confirmed aerial operations: “In defense of Coalition and partner forces, the Coalition conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression against partners engaged in the Global Coalition’s defeat-Daesh [ISIS] mission.”

The US official added, “Coalition officials were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the thwarted attack.”

Neither the Assad regime nor Russian officials have yet commented on the incident. However, earlier on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asserted:

It’s very likely that the Americans have taken a course of dividing the country. They just gave up their assurances, given to us, that the only goal of their presence in Syria – without an invitation of the legitimate government – was to defeat Islamic State and the terrorists.

The US has never before carried out deliberate strikes on pro-Assad fighters; however, US attacks in September 2016 —
intended against ISIS — accidentally hit Assad regime troops, killing scores.

The Islamic State was removed from all its major positions in eastern Syria, including Deir ez-Zor city, in autumn 2017 by a combination of pro-Assad and SDF offensives. As the new frontlines were established, there were sporadic pro-Assad attacks on the SDF along the Euphrates River, including at least one Russian airstrike; however, they never escalated to sustained battles.