U.S. air strike hits pro-regime convoy in Syria

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American officials and Syrian activists said the strike in the desert on Thursday hit the pro-Syrian government forces as they were setting up fighting positions in a protected area near Tanf.

The airstrikes are understood to have hit a pro-regime militia that was advancing on USA and coalition forces at At Tanf, according to Operation Inherent Resolve, the official name for the coalition fighting ISIS.

The U.S. -led coalition said that, ahead of the air strikes, a telephone call had been put into the Russian military, which backs President Bashar al-Assad.

"The Syrian Arab Army is fighting terrorism on its territory, and no party has the right to determine the course of its operations". "Any military actions that lead to a deterioration in the situation in Syria obviously impact the political process", deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov was quoted as saying by state-run RIA Novosti in Geneva. Thursday's strike marks a noticeable shift on US policy in the country, which previously only primarily focused on going after jihadi groups such as the Islamic State, and not the Iran-Assad-Hezbollah-Shia militia coalition that is also operating in Syria.

One of the defense officials - who, like the others, spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal details that the Pentagon had yet to make public - said that the USA acted to stop an advance of pro-regime forces toward Tanf.

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As the Wall Street Journal's Yaroslav Trofimov notes, Thursday's strike is significant not because the US has once again struck Assad's forces, but because it did so in defense of Syrian rebels. "It (Thursday's strike) is utterly unacceptable and a violation of Syria's sovereignty". He was asked if the airstrike increases the US role in the Syrian war. "The agreed upon de-confliction zone agreement remains in effect".

The Russians relayed the message to the Syrian government, but the forces did not withdraw, the official said.

An official from a US -backed rebel group told Reuters the bombing happened after his group clashed with the militia.

Although one of CNN's sources said it remained unknown whether the American planes only fired warning shots, a second us defense official said an airstrike "did hit the convoy after the vehicles continued toward the base". In Syria, Islamic State is fighting hard against several separate enemies, including Russian-backed Syrian government forces, trying to reinforce its presence as it is being pushed back in neighbouring parts of Iraq.

On April 7, the United States forces fired 59 Tomahawk missiles targeting Shayrat air base in Homs province after it was used in the regime chemical attack on the town of Khan Shaykhun. "Trump does not have Congressional authorization to attack Syria, a country that has not attacked United States".

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