A US-led coalition airstrike bombed and destroyed a T-72 tank threatening coalition forces in the Euphrates River Valley in Syria on Saturday, according to Col. Ryan Dillon, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve.
This was the second strike by the coalition against suspected pro-regime forces in the area in recent days.
In Saturday’s strike, “the tank had been maneuvering with coordinated indirect fire on a defensive position occupied by Syrian Democratic Forces and Coalition advisors,” Dillon said. Indirect fire generally refers to artillery or mortar fire. The coalition position was within range of the attackers’ weapons.
“The defensive position was within effective range of the hostile weapons systems,” Dillon said.
For now, the coalition cannot confirm who the pro-regime forces were, Dillon said. He added that there were no coalition or SDF casualties and explained that coalition forces maintain “regular” contact with Russian counterparts using established telephone lines to avoid miscalculations that could endanger each other’s forces.
Saturday’s incident follows an initial strike on February 7, when the US-led coalition conducted air and artillery strikes, killing an estimated 100 pro-regime fighters, according to a coalition statement.
The coalition described its action as being carried out in “self-defense.”
Syrian state news agency SANA described the action as an “aggression” by the coalition against “popular forces” who were fighting ISIS and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. The attack had left “scores of persons dead and others injured” and caused “huge damage” to the area, SANA added.
According to a coalition statement, its strikes were carried out after forces allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “initiated an unprovoked attack” against a well-established Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters where coalition advisers were working with US-backed Syrian fighters.
Some 500 pro-regime troops carried out the attack using artillery, mortar fire and Russian-made tanks “in what appears to be a coordinated attack on Syrian Democratic Forces,” US Army Col. Thomas Veale, a spokesman for the US-led coalition, told CNN.
Veale said that about “20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 meters” of the Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters before the US-backed fighters and coalition forces “targeted the aggressors with a combination of air and artillery strikes.”