U.S. forces attack and kill up to 100 Syrians investigating ISIS cell

From RT

True US goal in Syria is control over resources, not fighting ISIS – Russian MoD

February 8, 2018

The US-led coalition’s attack on pro-government forces in Syria has again proven that Washington’s true goal is to capture “economic assets” instead of fighting terrorism, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The MoD was referring to an incident which took place on Tuesday in Deir Ez-Zor province, as a Syrian militia unit was moving against a “sleeper cell” of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). The operation was prompted by a surge in shelling of the positions of Syrian government forces in the area over the past few days, attributed to the covert activities of IS terrorists, the ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

A unit of the pro-government militia was conducting a reconnaissance search mission on February 7 near the former oil processing plant of Al-Isba. While there, “the militiamen came under a surprise mortar and MRLS shelling, and were attacked by helicopters of the US-led ‘international coalition.’”

As a result, 25 members of the pro-government unit were injured. Initial media reports, citing unnamed US officials, suggested that some 100 Syrian soldiers had died in the assault by the coalition forces.

The US Central Command earlier called the attack on Syrian militiamen “self-defense,” claiming that the troops allegedly launched an “unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] headquarters.”

The US version of events, however, raises “lots of questions,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.

Following the incident, the Russian military talked to the coalition through the established communication channels, with the latter stating that Al-Isba was under the control of SDF and US troops. The immediate cause of the incident, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry, was the fact that the militia unit acted on its own, without consulting Russian advisers first.

The case exposes a greater problem, however, as according to the MoD the attack by the coalition “once again proved that the true goal of the continuous illegal presence of US forces in Syria is already not the fight against ISIS international terrorist group, but the capture and control of the economic assets belonging solely to the Syrian Arab Republic.”

Damascus has decried the attack as a “war crime”and a “crime against humanity,” SANA reports, citing a letter to the UN issued by the Foreign Ministry. The US-led coalition is illegal and should be disbanded altogether, the ministry stressed.

“We demand [the international community] condemn this massacre and hold the coalition responsible for it,” the ministry said, adding that this is not the first time the US-led coalition has targeted Syrian government forces.

The Syrian government has repeatedly condemned the US-led coalition’s presence on its soil, calling it an act of blatant aggression and violation of the country’s sovereignty.

Damascus has also urged the UN to press the US to leave, especially following the successful defeat of the main IS forces. The US, however, has stated that it may remain in Syria indefinitely to counter what it describes as Iranian influence and to secure “post-Assad leadership” for the country.

Recent developments indicate that the US might be effectively shifting towards partitioning Syria altogether, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned earlier on Wednesday.

“It’s very likely that the Americans have taken a course of dividing the country. They just gave up their assurances, given to us, that the only goal of their presence in Syria – without an invitation of the legitimate government – was to defeat Islamic State and the terrorists,” Lavrov stated.

“Now, they are saying that they will keep their presence until they make sure a steady process of a political settlement in Syria starts, which will result in regime change.”

https://www.rt.com/news/418227-syria-us-resources-grab/

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U.S. claims aerial attack on Syrian ‘pro-regime’ forces

From Fort Russ

February 8th, 2018 – Fort Russ News –
– By Joaquin Flores for FRN –

WASHINGTON DC, USA – In a major development, the US’s Central Command (Centcom) has just released an official statement, claiming that it has conducted an aerial attack on what it terms ‘Syrian pro-regime’ forces, about eight miles east of the Euphrates river.

The attack was strategically important for the US as control by the legal and duly elected Syrian government would allow it to link Syria and Lebanon via Iraq to Iran.

The Centcom statement included: “”Syrian pro-regime forces initiated an unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters Feb. 7.”

The statement continued: ” In defense of Coalition and partner forces, the Coalition conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression against partners engaged in the Global Coalition’s defeat-Daesh mission.”

It should be noted that the language used by Centcom greatly obfuscates the legal framework of this conflict. The US is operating illegally, with an overt invasion force, and also continues to fund and direct a side in what it frames as a civil war .

 While many international legal experts, as well as the Syrian government have concluded that the war in Syria is a US and ‘Coalition’ backed invasion, it is nevertheless also illegal to fund or control a side in a civil war, which is what the US claims it is doing. The US also claims this alongside its phantom war against its own ISIS creation.
Thus, any attack by the SAA and it’s allied fighting groups upon an illegal, internationally backed, terrorist or otherwise ‘militia’ group existing on the territory of Syria, can not rationally be described in any existing framework as either ‘aggression’ or ‘unprovoked’.

Centcom claims that US bombers struck ‘pro-regime forces’. This is the area where there have been successful Syrian military advances because the US created ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) moved out. The SDF is a rebranding of some of the US backed Kurdish forces which are operating in areas which include sizable Arab populations.

As we reported previously, Kurdish-led and US backed forces have deployed elsewhere to fight Turkish backed forces.

It is unclear at the time of publishing whether these ‘pro-regime forces’ were auxiliary militias, or the Syrian Arab Army itself. FRN still awaits confirmation on more reliable details from the officials of the SAA. Centcom official statements are historically inaccurate and rife with factual ambiguities and legal untruths.

Diplomatically, and legally, this difference – whether the SAA or allied militias were attacked – may result in a different response from the Syrian government, and its allies in the conflict: Iran and Russia.

In either event, this represents another major escalation in the US’s growing and direct role in the conflict which it has supported through various proxies since the start of this decade.

This story at the time of publishing, is still developing.