The US-led coalition launched an airstrike Tuesday against alleged Iranian-backed fighters who it claims posed a threat to U.S. and U.S.-backed forces in a southern Syria de-confliction zone in a new escalation of tensions between Washington and its counterparts in Damascus, Tehran and Moscow.
A Syrian military source said the strike had caused deaths and material damage and showed the coalition was “in support of terrorism.” The Syrian military command warned against the dangers of escalation, the source added.
Moscow likewise issued a blunt response, as First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee on Defense and Security Frants Klintsevich called the strike “a direct entry of the coalition into an open military conflict in Syria.”
“This is an act of aggression, Russia will immediately raise the issue of an extraordinary convocation of the U.N. Security Council,” Klintsevich stressed.
In a statement, the U.S. remarked that it had given warnings to the targeted group prior to destroying artillery pieces, anti-aircraft guns, and damaging a tank. The move marks the second airstrike on forces supporting the Syrian government.
On May 18, the U.S.-led coalition attacked a column of fighters who were moving into another well-demarcated de-confliction zone in the country’s south. Under the administration of President Donald Trump, civilian casualties resulting from U.S. airstrikes have skyrocketed as almost 60 percent of officially acknowledged deaths in the three-year U.S. military intervention have occurred during the first three months of the Trump presidency, according to U.S. Central Command.
British watchdog group Airwars estimated that the coalition airstrikes have claimed over 3,800 lives in total.