US-led coalition denies bombing pro-regime position in east Syria
Syrian Central Military Media, via AP, File
The US-led coalition against the Islamic State group on Monday denied Syrian government accusations that it carried out a deadly overnight air strike on pro-regime forces in the country's east.
"There have been no strikes by US or Coalition forces in that area," the coalition's press office said.
At least 52 foreign fighters allied to Syria's regime were killed in an overnight bombing raid near the country's eastern border with Iraq, a monitor said on Monday, with Syrian state media blaming a US-led coalition for the raid.
"Among them are at least 30 Iraqi fighters and 16 Syrians, including soldiers and members of loyalist militias," the monitor's chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP, adding that the remaining six fighters were not immediately identifiable.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strike on the town of Al-Hari was one of the deadliest on forces allied with Syria's government, but could not immediately identify who carried it out.
According to a military source, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported that a military position southeast of Albu Kamal was bombed, resulting in injuries and fatalities.
"Aircraft of the American coalition bombarded one of our military positions in the area of al-Hari southeast of Albu Kamal" town in Deir Ezzor, state news agency SANA reported a military source as saying, adding a number of people had been killed.
The US has since denied that it was behind the attack.
“No member of the U.S.-led coalition carried out strikes near Albu Kamal,” said Major Josh Jacques, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, to Reuters.
Israel is also suspected of carrying out numerous raids on Syrian government positions and Hezbollah weapons caches over the years, and last month announced unprecedented strikes on what it said were Tehran-operated bases in Syria.
Israel maintains a formal policy of non-intervention in the Syrian civil war but continuously asserts that it will not allow Iran to entrench itself in the country, where it has for years provided military backing to Assad alongside Russia.
Meanwhile, both US-backed Kurdish-led fighters and Russia-supported regime forces are separately fighting the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria's eastern province of Deir Ezzor.
IS overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, declaring a "caliphate" in areas they controlled.
But the jihadists have since lost most of that territory, in Syria seeing their presence largely reduced to the country's vast desert and a few villages near the frontier with Iraq.
In the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian government forces have carried out parallel but separate offensives against IS.
Regime forces control land west of the Euphrates River that runs through the province, while the SDF are battling to expel IS from a string of villages on the river's eastern banks near the Iraqi border.
Both sides have mostly avoided running into each other and a deconfliction line exists to avoid such incidents.
But there have been exceptions.
In April, rare clashes broke out between both sides, killing more than a dozen combatants.
In February, the US-led coalition backing the SDF carried out air strikes in Deir Ezzor province that killed at least 100 pro-regime fighters.
Washington said the strikes were in retaliation for an attack on its own personnel and SDF forces.
You need to be logged in in order to post comments. Sign up or log in
Most very likely Iranians!
Or even Hezbollah.