US strike hits pro-Assad forces Syria

"They are testing USA military resolve", he said.

The coalition hit the pro-Syrian government forces after warning shots, a show of force and apparent Russian attempts failed to dissuade those troops from moving into the "de-conflicted area", a coalition statement said.

The US defence official told AFP that the strike did not signal a strategic shift for the coalition, which has focused on battling IS and has tried to avoid intervening in Syria's civil war.

The April strikes were ordered in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that Washington blamed on Damascus, and were described as a one-off measure to deter any future chemical weapons use. Later, a United States defense official confirmed the information to Sputnik.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said America's role in Syria's conflict was unchanged.

Few details have emerged about the group targeted. The U.S. and its regional allies, namely Jordan and Israel, are just as bothered by Iranian activity so close to their borders.

A Pentagon official said us military jets targeted a pro-regime Shia militia armed and equipped by the Assad government and "deemed a threat to USA partners near Jordan", Stars and Stripes reports. The Syrian plane quickly left the area that had been agreed to by American and Russian officials as a no-go zone for aircraft from either side.

In a separate incident, a Syrian SU-22 fighter entered the deconfliction zone and was intercepted by a pair of American F-22 fighter aircraft.

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US officials indicated the ground threat included tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and pickup trucks equipped with heavy machine guns. The backing Syrian Kurdish forces who are also fighting IS to the country's east.

It's unclear whether anyone was killed or wounded.

The first official said the convoy was "significant" in size, but only the lead vehicles were hit.

The de-escalation zones are also believed, by USA and opposition sources, to free up time and resources for the regime to advance into the American sphere of influence in ISIS areas. The officials say the strike was a defensive move to protect the US allies.

The 5th Special Forces Group has been training and mentoring pro-Western rebel groups in and around Tanf for about six months as part of the anti-ISIS campaign developed under then-President Barack Obama and continued by the Trump administration. With the aid of airstrikes, the Americans repelled the attack, killing between 20 and 30 attackers.

The Shi'ite troops launched an offensive on Friday to drive the militants from the desert region near the border with Syria. That intervention was the first time the USA directly attacked the Syrian government.

Andrew deGrandpre is Military Times' senior editor and Pentagon bureau chief.

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