WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered a fresh round of airstrikes against pro-Assad troops in Syria after rogue forces repeatedly ignored warnings from both coalition and Russian forces, says a defense spokesperson.
The forces came within a 34-mile defensive zone around the al-Tanf base in southern Syria, according to the latest reports.
The U.S.-led coalition first tried to use a Russian hotline to warn the Syrian government to remove the forces from near the coalition base, but the forces refused to withdraw, the spokesperson said.
U.S. commanders say they quickly became concerned when they saw military tanks, bulldozers and other heavy equipment advance without authorization entering into a “de-confliction” zone near the base where American forces were located and acted accordingly.
“The coalition commander assessed the threat and after shows of force didn’t stop the regime forces and those forces refused to move out of the deconfliction zone, the commander on the ground called for the air strike as a matter of force protection,” a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/05/18/us-air-strikes-pound-pro-assad-forces-in-syria.html). “We conducted a show of force. We conducted warning shots. All to no avail,” the official said.
The strike is the second time within as many months that president Trump authorized the targeting of Syrian forces. The military action follows an April 6 attack on a Syrian government airfield, which the president ordered in response to a chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians, including children.
Syrian activists say the strike left an unknown number of casualties.
There was no immediate word from the Syrian government on the attack. Russian officials, who were initially angered by last April’s military strike against their Syrian ally, have yet to comment on the attack.