Though as yet unconfirmed in other international sources, Russian and Syrian state media are reporting major US coalition airstrikes in eastern Syria which left multiple civilians and at least one Syrian soldier dead.
Syria’s SANA reports eight civilians killed and many injured during US coalition airstrikes on al-Sha’afa village in Deir Ezzor countryside on Thursday.
The unconfirmed breaking story cites “civil sources” in the region of the strikes to report that “at least eight citizens were killed, many others were injured and huge destruction affected the houses after warplanes of the US-led international coalition carried out many raids on the citizens’ houses.”
Early this week the Syrian government accused the US of conducting massive airstrikes on government forces near Abu Kamal along the Iraq-Syria border, after which the US coalition spokesman issued a formal denial. An unnamed US official later told CNN that Israel actually carried out the attack, which reportedly killed scores of Syrian Army and Iraqi paramilitary forces carrying out an anti-ISIS campaign in the area on Sunday.
Neither Israel nor the US officially acknowledged responsibility for the Sunday airstrikes, and no official recognition of Thursday’s alleged strikes has been forthcoming.
Meanwhile Sputnik reports on what appears to be *a separate incident:*
At least one Syrian soldier was killed in a US-led coalition airstrike on Syrian army positions in the east of Homs province on Thursday, a Syrian field commander told Sputnik.
“The combat planes belonging to the coalition led by the United States, attacked the army position in Jabal Ghurab, some 150 kilometers [93 miles] east of Palmyra near the border with Iraq,” the commander said.
“One serviceman was killed and several others wounded,” he added.
A CNN reporter confirms that hostilities indeed broke out in the region:
.@CJTFOIR: US-backed “Maghawir al-Thowra fighters & Coalition advisors within the deconfliction zone near At Tanf were engaged by an unidentified hostile force located just outside the deconfliction zone in the early evening June 21.” Coalition troops & MaT fighters returned fire
— Ryan Browne (@rabrowne75) June 21, 2018
Sources who spoke to Sputnik say the serviceman was a Syrian officer who was part of a unit engaged in return fire on US coalition vehicles:
According to a Syrian field commander, the sudden US-led coalition air assault occurred after Syrian forces responded to an open fire from three coalition’s vehicles, moving towards positions of governmental forces.
And significantly, Sputnik reports further that the firefight involved coalition vehicles from al-Tanf base: “According to a Syrian field commander, coalition vehicles were spotted moving away from Al Tanf district, where the US-led coalition base is situated.”
The reports of fresh US attacks in Syria’s East come the same day the US State Department issued vague warnings against Damascus not to extend its military campaign to the country’s south: “The United States remains deeply troubled by reports of increasing Syrian regime operations in southwest Syria within the boundaries of the de-escalation zone negotiated between the United States, Jordan, and the Russian Federation last year and reaffirmed between Presidents Trump and Putin in Da Nang, Vietnam in November,” spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
“The Syrian regime military and militia units, according to our reports, have violated the southwest de-escalation zone and initiated airstrikes, artillery, and rocket attacks,” Nauert continued. “The United States continues to warn both the Russian government and the Assad regime of the serious repercussions of these violations and demands that Russia restrain pro-regime forces from further actions within the southwest de-escalation zone.”