Deadly battle with Syrian regime forces complicates Trump's Syria strategy

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She stressed that the coalition strikes were purely defensive and that Washington is not seeking to fight Syrian government forces.

They spoke on condition of anonymity as details are still emerging on the attack.

However, the attack, which USA officials assess to be aimed at capturing lucrative Syrian oil fields that US-backed forces captured from ISIS, underscores the diverse array of challenges the Trump administration faces as it seeks to ensure the long-term defeat of ISIS while simultaneously containing Iran's influence in the Middle East.

Nebenzia also said that while the humanitarian situation in Syria is "deplorable", it is "in no way much more different than it used to be a month ago — but now we are being presented with it as if something dramatic has happened". However, the United States has made it clear that it does not intend to leave the area.

Syrian activists say the death toll from airstrikes and shelling of eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus has risen to at least 56.

But while ISIS has lost over 98% of its territory in Syria numerous other objectives outlined by Tillerson are still fraught with difficulty.

"Our forces have the inherent right of self defence".

The military spokesperson said the coalition believes that pro-regime forces were attempting to seize territory, including lucrative oil fields east of the Euphrates River, that the SDF had liberated from ISIS in September.

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I will be part of it, for sure, training with [the team] and cheering them on. That didn't cross my mind". "At the moment I am here", he told Marca .

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, said Deir el-Zour province continues to be tense following the foiled attack and the US response, and said there were reports of a new mobilization to the area. The media cited reports of dozens killed and wounded.

The SDF is an alliance of Arab and Kurdish forces, based in northern and eastern Syria, that together with the USA -led coalition are fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and ISIS.

When the advancing forces unleashed a volley of 20 to 30 tank and artillery rounds toward the base, US warplanes and artillery struck back, Veale said in an emailed statement.

While Russia backs the Assad regime and that official said the attack utilized Russian-made tanks, another official said the coalition "cannot speculate on the exact makeup of the Syrian pro-regime forces who conducted the attack at this time".

Still, the incident underscored growing tensions in Syria amid reports of Syrian chemical weapons use elsewhere in the country.

The United States has plans to divide Syria, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who on Wednesday said he plans to discuss the matter with its American counterparts.

In an email Thursday to The Associated Press, Col. Thomas F. Veale said the coalition reported to the Russians the buildup of the pro-government forces in the area before the attack, and communicated with them during and after it.

Shortly after Tillerson's speech and an announcement by the U.S. military that it meant to work with the Syrian Democratic Forces to establish a border security force in order to secure areas liberated from ISIS, Turkey launched a major military operation targeting Kurdish groups in Afrin, Syria. It illustrated the complexity of the battlefield now that the war against the extremist group is winding down, leaving the United States in overall control of roughly a quarter of Syria. Additionally, Turkey has threatened to launch a military operation against Manbij, Syria, a place where USA troops do work with local Kurdish and Arab fighters. This official added that there is no direct evidence yet that the Russians had fired on the Syrian Democratic Forces facility where the USA advisers were located.

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