U.S. says Iranian-directed convoy targeted by U.S. strike in Syria | Reuters

By Phil Stewart | WASHINGTON WASHINGTON The United States said on Friday it believed forces in a convoy targeted by U.S. military aircraft in southern Syria on Thursday were Iranian-directed, in a possible sign of increased tension between Washington and Tehran in the Syrian war.Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon that the U.S

Reuters May 20, 2017 06:00:05 IST
U.S. says Iranian-directed convoy targeted by U.S. strike in Syria
| Reuters

US says Iraniandirected convoy targeted by US strike in Syria
 Reuters

By Phil Stewart
| WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON The United States said on Friday it believed forces in a convoy targeted by U.S. military aircraft in southern Syria on Thursday were Iranian-directed, in a possible sign of increased tension between Washington and Tehran in the Syrian war.Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon that the U.S. strike was defensive in nature. It was condemned by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has the backing of Iran and Russia. A member of the U.S.-backed Syrian rebel forces told Reuters on Thursday the convoy comprised Syrian and Iranian-backed militias and was headed toward the garrison in Syria used by U.S. and U.S.-backed forces around the town of At Tanf.The United States determined that the convoy posed a threat."It was necessitated ... by offensive movement with offensive capability of what we believe were Iranian-directed - I don't know there were Iranians on the ground - but by Iranian-directed forces," Mattis said at a news conference.Rebel sources have warned of advances by Syrian army and Iranian-backed militia in the region near the strategic Damascus-Baghdad highway, which was once a major weapons supply route for Iranian weapons.

Mattis said he believed the Iranian-directed forces moved into the zone against the advice of Russia but that he was unable to confirm that with certainty."But it looks like the Russians tried to dissuade them," Mattis said.A Western intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, has said the strike sent a strong message to Iranian-backed militias that they would not be allowed to reach the Iraq border from Syria.

Syrian government negotiator Bashar al-Ja'afari said on Friday he had raised the incident with U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura at peace talks in Geneva."We discussed the massacre that the U.S. aggressor committed yesterday in our country. This subject was widely discussed," Ja'afari told reporters.Thursday's air strike did not on its own suggest a shift in the U.S. military's focus in Syria, which has been on battling Islamic State militants.

But the latest move showed that the area around the Tanf garrison in southern Syria could be under pressure.U.S. Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he had been working on ways to manage Syria's messy battlefield with Russia. There is no interaction between the U.S. and Syrian militaries. "We had a proposal that we're working on with the Russians right now. I won't share the details," Dunford said. "But my sense is that the Russians are as enthusiastic as we are to deconflict operations and ensure that we can continue to take the campaign to ISIS and ensure the safety of our personnel," he said, using an acronym for Islamic State.(Refiles to change to Iranian-directed, not Iran-directed in headline and paragraph 1) (Reporting by Phil Stewart; additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Grant McCool)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Iran tells IAEA it plans to enrich uranium to up to 20% at Fordow site
World

Iran tells IAEA it plans to enrich uranium to up to 20% at Fordow site

By Francois Murphy VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has told the United Nations nuclear watchdog it plans to enrich uranium to up to 20% purity, a level it achieved before its 2015 accord, at its Fordow site buried inside a mountain, the agency said on Friday.

UK reactivates emergency COVID-19 hospitals, closes London primary schools
World

UK reactivates emergency COVID-19 hospitals, closes London primary schools

By Kate Holton LONDON (Reuters) - Britain reactivated emergency hospitals built at the start of the pandemic and shut primary schools in London on Friday to counter the rapid spread of a much more infectious variant of the coronavirus. With more than 50,000 new daily cases of COVID-19 for the last four days, the health service said it was preparing for an anticipated rush of patients and needed more beds.

Romney floats sweeping vaccine plan as U.S. nears 20 million COVID-19 cases
World

Romney floats sweeping vaccine plan as U.S. nears 20 million COVID-19 cases

By Susan Heavey WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senator Mitt Romney on Friday urged the U.S. government to immediately enlist veterinarians, combat medics and others in a sweeping proposal to administer coronavirus vaccinations and slow the rising death toll.