Pentagon: Syria airstrikes targeted Iran-backed convoy

Pentagon: Syria airstrikes targeted Iran-backed convoy
  1. Pentagon: Syria airstrikes targeted Iran-backed convoy
    The Pentagon has said Iran directed the convoy that was destroyed in the US airstrikes on pro-Syrian forces earlier this week. Officials in Russia and Syria slammed the strike as an assault on Syrian…

Iran likely directed the convoy that was destroyed by a US airstrike in Syria earlier this week, US Defense Secretary James Mattis claimed on Friday.

On Thursday, US-led warplanes hit a pro-regime convoy near the border with Jordan, saying the targets had ignored warning shots. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes killed eight people - "most of them non-Syrian" - and destroyed four vehicles.

The strike was "necessitated by offensive movement with offensive capability of what we believe were Iranian-directed forces," Mattis said, adding that he was not sure if there were Iranians on the ground.

The strikes hit in a "deconfliction zone" where British and US commandos were training and advising local forces fighting the so-called "Islamic State." Russia and the coalition agree on these zones to avoid inadvertently striking each other's forces.

The strike was the first such close confrontation between US forces and fighters backing Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Mattis said the convoy appeared to move into the area against the advice of Russia.

"It looks like the Russians tried to dissuade them," he said.

Not a sign of 'move involvement'

Mattis said the strike did not mean the US was becoming more involved in Syria's civil war, but Russia and Syria both condemned the airstrikes.

This "flagrant aggression launched by the international coalition exposes the falsity of its allegation about fighting terrorism and undoubtedly demonstrates the reality of the Zionist-American project in the region," a Syrian official said on Syrian state TV.

"Such actions that were carried out against the Syrian armed forces ... this is completely unacceptable - this is a breach of Syrian sovereignty," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov was quoted as saying by state-run RIA Novosti in Geneva.

Syria's opposition delegation to Geneva lauded the airstrike, …

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