Sunday, 07 June, 2020

Syria army reaches Iraq border after US tensions: monitor

Christy Curtis | 10 June, 2017, 05:23

About 40 pro-regime forces have set up camp overlooking a major road northwest of al-Tanf, in an area inside an established deconfliction zone that reaches about 55 kilometers around the base, according to officials.

Department of Defense (AT TANF, Syria) - A U.S. Air Force fighter jet shot down an armed Predator-like drone over southeastern Syria on Thursday after the drone had fired at U.S. -led coalition and Syrian rebel forces, according to a coalition statement.

Tanf is part of a region known as the Badia, a vast, sparsely populated desert territory that stretches to the Jordanian and Iraqi borders and was declared a military priority by Syria's foreign minister in May.

Later Thursday, an American F-15E Strike Eagle shot down an armed drone apparently supporting the militia after it dropped a bomb near a patrol of USA -backed anti-ISIS fighters just outside the non-combat zone that surrounds Tanf.

The U.S. Air Force's F-15E Strike Eagle is described as a dual-role fighter designed for both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.

The United States has carried out several airstrikes against IS in Syria in recent months, but pro-government forces have been targeted in recent weeks.

The incident was the first time that pro-regime forces attempted to strike coalition forces in the area surrounding al-Tanf, an army base where members of the coalition are training Syrians to fight Islamic State, U.S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon told reporters at the Pentagon by video call from Baghdad. The group said the USA -led coalition used white phosphorous in the night attacks on Raqqa.

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The Pentagon has not said who was operating the drone or where it came from, but the At-Tanaf area has seen a surge in activity of Iran-backed troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Iran makes an armed drone similar in description to the one shot down. USA planes even dropped leaflets in late May urging pro-Assad forces to stay away from the deconfliction zone.

"An estimated 40,000 children remain trapped in extremely risky conditions in Raqqa".

The coalition's focus remains on fighting the Islamic State group, he added, saying it does not want to battle the Syrian regime.

White phosphorous burns at extremely high temperatures and can be used to illuminate conflict zones or obscure them with smoke.

Global law prohibits the use of white phosphorous in civilian zones because of its indiscriminate effects - from starting fires to causing excruciating burns for bystanders over a large area - according to Human Rights Watch, which said it was investigating the allegations. Worldwide law prohibits its use in civilian areas because of its indiscriminate effects, from starting fires to causing excruciating burns for bystanders, according to Human Rights Watch, which said it was investigating the allegations.

The coalition did not comment specifically on the reported advance.

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