Beirut: The US-led coalition stated Thursday it killed a minimum of 100 pro-regime fighters to fend off an assault on its allies in japanese Syria, in a single its deadliest confrontations but with forces backing Damascus.
The preliminary assault was carried out by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad on key oil and fuel installations in elements of Deir Ezzor province managed by US-backed Kurdish forces.
The conflict got here towards a backdrop of escalating tensions between Washington and Damascus over an uptick within the suspected use of chemical weapons by the regime and allied militia.
In the meantime, regime warplanes rained bombs for a fourth consecutive day on the rebel-held enclave of Japanese Ghouta, outdoors Damascus, the place the demise toll soared to 170 since Monday.
In keeping with the US Central Command, coalition advisers have been current within the space that was attacked by pro-government forces in Deir Ezzor province late on Wednesday.
“The coalition carried out strikes towards attacking forces to repel the act of aggression” towards its personal personnel and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces internet hosting them, it stated.
Oil and fuel goal
“We estimate greater than 100 Syrian pro-regime forces have been killed whereas partaking SDF and coalition forces,” a US navy official stated on situation of anonymity.
The SDF and the coalition focused the attacking forces with air strikes and shelling after “20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed inside 500 metres (yards) of the SDF headquarters location,” the official stated.
In keeping with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which solely confirmed 45 lifeless amongst pro-regime forces, the preliminary assault occurred close to Khasham.
The top of the Britain-based monitoring group, Rami Abdel Rahman, stated the purpose of the assault gave the impression to be the seize of a key oil area and a significant fuel plant in an SDF-held space.
The Omar oil area, one of many largest in Syria, had a pre-war output of 30,000 barrels per day, whereas the Conoco fuel area had a pre-war capability of 13 million cubic metres a day.
Regime and SDF fighters have been concerned in a number of skirmishes within the space final yr, as they every carried out parallel operations towards among the Islamic State jihadist group’s final bastions.
Damascus and the US-backed Kurdish militia as soon as labored in the direction of the identical purpose within the area however they have been by no means allied and the demise of the IS “caliphate” has additional strained an already frosty relation.
Syrian state media confirmed that dozens have been killed within the conflict however appeared to disclaim the forces have been military troopers, describing the victims as “fashionable forces”.
In keeping with the Observatory, the forces that launched the assault on SDF positions have been native tribal fighters loyal to Assad and Afghan Shiite militia preventing alongside the regime.
CENTCOM stated the assault occurred eight kilometres (5 miles) east of the “Euphrates River de-confliction line,” referring to a boundary agreed by Russia and the US, with the previous’s space of operations west of the river and the latter’s to its east.
ISIS jihadists have been flushed out of their final strongholds in japanese Syria and over the border in western Iraq late final yr.
However the SDF continues to search out surviving jihadists who’ve reverted to a clandestine insurgency.
Washington has just lately ramped up the rhetoric towards Damascus over its alleged use of chemical weapons, together with on quite a lot of events in January and February.
Chlorine-filled munitions are believed to have been fired a number of occasions on rebel-controlled areas, together with the enclave of Japanese Ghouta.
Ghouta toll soars
The regime has stepped upped its bombardment of the enclave, which it has been besieging since 2013.
Warplanes dropped bombs for the fourth consecutive day Thursday, killing a minimum of 22 civilians and wounding dozens, in line with the Observatory.
The most recent bloodshed introduced the demise toll to greater than 170 for the week and left medics utterly overwhelmed.
With few bulldozers and valuable little gasoline to function them, rescue staff have struggled to achieve trapped civilians and are having to work beneath fireplace.
“There was an enormous, big escalation towards the town. A couple of place was decreased to rubble,” Abu Mohammad Omar, a 23-year-old rescue employee, instructed an AFP reporter within the enclave’s predominant city of Douma.
Japanese Ghouta was considered one of a number of so-called de-escalation zones agreed final yr by three of the principle outdoors gamers within the battle — Turkey, Iran and Russia.
Ankara introduced Thursday it might host a brand new three-way summit to revive efforts to finish the battle, which has killed a minimum of 340,000 individuals and displaced hundreds of thousands since 2011.