U.S. claims self-defense in strikes on Syrian-backed forces

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GETTYThe US-led coalition fighting Islamic State described the attack on the headquarters as'unprovoked

Syrian pro-regime forces initiated an unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters today, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials said. More than 100 fighters from the pro-regime side were killed in an unprecedented and large clash the included tanks, artillery and rockets.

The coalition said the attack took place in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, eight kilometers east of the agreed upon "de-confliction" line which is created to separate Russian-backed regime troops and US-backed forces in Syria.

"The SDF responded with artillery fire on regime positions in the town of Khasham before the intervention of coalition forces", he said.

"We have multiple fronts with people in extreme danger without a view to a solution", he said.

The pro-regime forces includes several hundred soldiers as well. "Coalition service members in an advise, assist, and accompany capacity were co-located with SDF partners during the attack". Up to 30 artillery and tank rounds came within 500 yards of an SDF headquarters.

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About 100 of the attackers were then killed in a counter-strike, an American military official said.

Skirmishes between the SDF and Syrian Regime Forces are not uncommon given the recent major defeats of ISIS, with the retaking of its former capital Raqqa last October, resulting in both armed group's advances connecting.

The officials decline to identify details of the attacking forces, which are suspected to be Syrian or from one of a number of allied militia units, including from Iraq and Lebanon, that are backing President Bashar Al Assad in the country's seven-year civil war.

IS had held most of Deir al-Zour since 2014.

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