Syria says US-led coalition hit its forces in the east

A US military vehicle drives through in the countryside of eastern Deir Ezzor province on January 26, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 03 February 2019
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Syria says US-led coalition hit its forces in the east

  • The attack injured two soldiers and destroyed an artillery piece
  • The US-led coalition has previously denied striking Syrian military targets in that area

BEIRUT: The Syrian military said the US-led coalition attacked one of its artillery positions in the country’s east, wounding two soldiers and destroying a cannon, according to state media reports on Sunday.
The spokesman for the US-led coalition Col. Sean Ryan said their partner forces acted in “self-defense” after coming under fire from the western side of the Euphrates River.
US-led coalition forces, with their local Kurdish-led partners, are battling the remnants of Daesh on the eastern banks of the Euphrates, while government troops and allied forces are now positioned on the other side after dislodging Daesh from there.
The incident highlights the risks of operating in close proximity with rival forces in the crowded area where Daesh militants are making their last stand.
An unnamed Syrian military official told state news agency SANA that the coalition’s attack took place late Saturday on government positons in Sukkariyah, west of Boukamal town. It was followed by a foiled incursion by Daesh militants, he added, accusing the US of aiding the militants. Damascus often accuses Washington of aiding “terrorists” to destabilize the government.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said militants, holed up in a small area on the Euphrates’ eastern bank, launched an attack against government forces and allied Iranian-backed troops in an apparent attempt to clear an escape route westward toward the desert. The militants also fired at government troops from their position, said the Observatory.
The Observatory said the Daesh attacks lasted for hours and left at least 11 militants, including three suicide bombers, dead.
Since the US announced in December that it’s withdrawing troops from Syria, Syrian government troops have beefed up their presence on the western banks of Euphrates. The timetable for the US withdrawal is not yet clear.
The US-led coalition and local Kurdish-led partners have been battling Daesh militants on the eastern banks of the river since September. The militants are now holding out in two farm areas along the river about four square kilometers in size. Thousands of civilians have fled the fighting but many are still believed to be trapped with the remaining militants.


Turkey sees improvement in S-400, F-35 talks with US, but preparing for potential sanctions: defense minister

Updated 48 min 25 sec ago
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Turkey sees improvement in S-400, F-35 talks with US, but preparing for potential sanctions: defense minister

  • Turkey and the US are at odds over Ankara’s decision to buy the S-400s, which cannot be integrated into NATO systems
  • Turkey evaluating a US offer to purchase the Raytheon’s Patriot systems

ANKARA: Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said he sees an improvement in talks with the United States over the purchase of Russian S-400 defense systems and US F-35 fighter jets, but added that Ankara was also preparing for potential US sanctions.
Turkey and the United States are at odds over Ankara’s decision to buy the S-400s, which cannot be integrated into NATO systems. Washington says the move would jeopardize Ankara’s role in building Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, which it says would be compromised by the S-400s.
Speaking to reporters late on Tuesday, Akar said that Turkey was fulfilling its responsibilities in the F-35 project and that Ankara expected the program to continue as planned. He said talks with US officials were still underway.
He also said Turkey was evaluating a US offer to purchase the Raytheon Co. Patriot systems, adding that Ankara and Washington were working on price, technology transfer, joint production issues on the latest offer from US officials.

Akar said their military personnel are receiving training to operate the S-400 missile defense system.

Turkey has repeatedly said that the S-400 agreement is a “done deal” and cannot be canceled but Akar said US officials insist that “no deal is a done deal.”