US strikes Iran-backed Syrian militia again, after numerous warnings to halt advances

The Coalition destroyed additional pro-Syrian regime forces that advanced inside the well-established de-confliction zone in southern Syria, June 6.

Despite previous warnings, pro-regime forces entered the agreed-upon de-confliction zone with a tank, artillery, anti-aircraft weapons, armed technical vehicles and more than 60 soldiers posing a threat to Coalition and partner forces based at the At Tanf Garrison, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Central Command.

The US military dropped thousands of leaflets this week in south-east Syria to warn an Iranian-backed militia not to interfere in the coalition’s anti-IS operations.

A copy of the leaflets provided to Reuters by the Pentagon told the Iran-backed fighters that any movement towards the At Tanf garrison “will be seen as hostile intent and we will defend our forces.”

“You are within an established deconfliction zone, leave the area immediately,” another read.

The Coalition issued several warnings via the de-confliction line prior to destroying two artillery pieces, an anti-aircraft weapon, and damaging a tank.

On May 18, the Coalition conducted a strike against pro-Syrian regime forces that had advanced a significant distance into the de-confliction zone threatening the Coalition forces at At Tanf.

Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon the strikes were conducted in “self-defense” and were “necessitated by offensive movement with offensive capability of what we believe were Iranian-directed forces.” He added that it was unclear whether Iranians were on the ground with the forces.

Coalition forces have been operating in the At Tanf area for many months, training and advising vetted Syrian partner forces engaged in the fight against ISIS.

“We have increased our presence and our footprint and prepared for any threat that is presented by the pro-regime forces,” said the spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, US Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, referring to Iran-backed forces supporting Syrian regime president Bashar al-Assad.

The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime or pro-regime forces but remains ready to defend themselves if pro-regime forces refuse to vacate the de-confliction zone. The Coalition calls on all parties in southern Syria to focus their efforts on the defeat of ISIS, which is our common enemy and the greatest threat to regional and worldwide peace and security.


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