US: Response to attack by Syrian regime is self-defense

Coalition and Russian officials communicated before, during and after attack, Pentagon spokesperson says

By Safvan Allahverdi

WASHINGTON (AA) - Syrian pro-regime forces Wednesday attacked the terrorist PYD/PKK-led SDF on the east of the Euphrates River deconfliction line in Syria, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

"Syrian pro-regime forces moved in a battalion-sized unit formation, supported by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems," Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White told reporters in a press briefing, claiming that "20 to 30" artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 meters of the SDF (PYD/PKK) headquarters location.

White said that SDF, supported by the coalition, responded to the pro-regime forces with a combination of air and artillery strikes, and the action was taken as "self-defense".

"Pro-regime vehicles and personnel, who were turned around and headed back west, were not targeted," she said, noting that the U.S. does not seek a conflict with the Bashar al-Assad regime.

"Any action that takes away from our ongoing operations to defeat ISIS is a distraction," she added.

The U.S. media reported that more than 100 pro-regime soldiers were killed during the attack. However, White did not provide any detail about the casualties.

Additionally, she said Coalition officials alerted Russian officials of the SDF presence via the deconfliction line in advance of the attack and the deconfliction process served its purpose.

"Coalition officials were in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the attack," she continued. "Russian officials assured coalition officials they would not engage coalition forces in the vicinity."

During the attack, one SDF soldier was wounded, and there were no coalition casualties, according to White. The U.S. has long resisted Turkish criticisms of its support for the SDF, led by the terrorist PYD/PKK, contending that the group is a “reliable ally” in its fight against Daesh.

Turkey has pointed to the PYD/PKK as the Syrian offshoot of the terrorist PKK, that has taken 40,000 lives in a 30-year terrorist campaign in Turkey.

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