Russia says latest U.S. Syria strike hit civilians, was unacceptable - agencies

Syrian official news agency SANA Syrian President Bashar Assad right meets with Iraq's National Security Adviser Faleh al-Fayadth in Damascus Syria Thursday May. 18 2017

USA officials say an American airstrike has hit pro-Syrian government forces in southern Syria as they were setting up fighting positions in a protected area.

The strike on the convoy heading toward a coalition garrison near the Jordanian border was "necessitated by offensive movement with offensive capability of what we believe were Iranian-directed forces", Mattis said, adding he was not sure if there were Iranians on the ground.

A US defence official said the convoy had not responded to numerous warnings that it was "getting too close to coalition forces".

One of the defense officials - who, like the others, spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal details that the Pentagon had yet to make public - said that the U.S. acted to stop an advance of pro-regime forces toward Tanf. He was asked if the airstrike represented an increase in the USA role in the Syrian war. The presence of regime troops so close to the deconfliction zone in At Tanif "posed a threat to USA partner forces", say command officials.

The coalition strikes reportedly occurred near At Tanf town, where US' and British special operations forces have been training Syrian rebel fighters near the border with Iraq and Jordan.

A deadly combination of human error, bad intelligence and an increasingly complicated battlefield led to the mistaken bombing of Syrian government troops by American and coalition aircraft in September.

The U.S. -led coalition said that, ahead of the air strikes, a telephone call had been put into the Russian military, which backs President Bashar al-Assad.

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Base at At Tanf has been used by advisers from the US-led worldwide coalition to train Syrian rebels fighting ISIS.

More than 400,000 people have so far been killed in the conflict which also triggered one of the world's worst refugee and humanitarian crisis with millions of people displaced.

The U.S military has launched air strikes against pro-Assad troops in Syria after they ignored several warnings from both coalition and Russian forces, Thursday.

U.S. aircraft then attempted to buzz the regime, but when the convoy did not turn around, they conducted a strike against some of the vehicles.

Graeme, Chairman of the joint chiefs of staff of the armed forces of the United States Joseph Dunford said that such attacks will not be repeated if there is no threat to the us military.

Last month, however, it launched a barrage of missiles at Syria's Shayrat airbase, which it said was the launch pad for an alleged chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians.

The convoy was hit on Thursday, May 18 as it neared a group of US -backed rebels and a Western special forces unit in Tanf.

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