Aby Itunuoluwa Adebo
The U.S military has launched air strikes against pro-Assad troops in Syria after they ignored several warnings from both coalition and Russian forces, Thursday.
A Pentagon official said the Syrian forces, were close to the Jordanian border and posed a threat to coalition partners on the ground. They were repeatedly ordered to stop advancing toward a de-escalation zone, but ignored the warning.
According to Fox News, a U.S defense official said “The coalition commander assessed the threat and after shows of force didn’t stop the regime forces and those forces refused to move out of the deconfliction zone, the commander on the ground called for the air strike as a matter of force protection.”
The Associated Press also reported another military official saying it appeared the Syrian forces were ready to attack an area that included U.S advisers.
“They were building a fighting position” about 55 kilometers from a U.S.-coalition base close to At Tanf, where advisers train members of the Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian Arab Coalition, the second official said.
Jame Mattis the U. S Defense Secretary addressed the strikes briefly, during a meeting with Swedish Defense minister Peter Hultqvist, Thursday
Mattis said “We’re not increasing our role in the Syrian civil war but we will defend our troops, and that is a coalition element made up of more than just U.S. troops, and so we’ll defend ourselves, if people take aggressive steps against us, and that’s been a going in, a policy of ours for a long time.”
Both the U.S. and Russia, which is allied with the pro-Assad forces, have established buffer zones around their separate areas of operation to avoid collateral damage. Each side has agreed to notify the other if forces are deployed
within the buffer zones.
In this case, an official told The Associated Press, Russia tried multiple times to contact the Syrian forces. It was at that point that U.S. and coalition jets escalated their warnings.
The Pentagon official also said the attack on forces does not reflect an escalation, and that the policy remains unchanged.