U.S. Says Convoy Hit by Coalition in Syria Likely 'Iranian-Directed'


A pro-regime convoy that was struck by U.S.-led warplanes inside Syria this week likely was directed by Iran, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said Friday.

The strike on the convoy heading toward a coalition garrison near the Jordanian border was "necessitated by offensive movement with offensive capability of what we believe were Iranian-directed forces," Mattis said, adding he was not sure if there were Iranians on the ground.

Thursday's strike occurred inside an established "deconfliction zone" northwest of the At-Tanf garrison, where British and U.S. commandos have been training and advising local forces fighting the Islamic State group. 

Such zones are agreed upon between Russia and the coalition, and are designed to stop either side inadvertently striking the other's forces on the ground and in the air. 

The Pentagon says coalition attempts to stop the convoy from proceeding had included a call to the Russians -- who work with the Syrian regime -- then a "show of force" in the skies above the vehicles, followed by warning shots.

It appeared the convoy had moved into the area against the advice of the Russians, Mattis said.

"It looks like the Russians tried to dissuade them," he said.

The Pentagon has stressed the attack did not signal broader U.S. involvement in Syria's civil war, but Damascus on Friday condemned the strike on pro-government forces as a "brazen attack" and said it would "not be intimidated."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the strike a violation of Syrian sovereignty and said he was "unaware" that Russia had been given any warning ahead of the strike.

An array of regular and irregular forces are battling alongside the government against rebels, including Russian and Iranian soldiers and militants from Iraq and Lebanon's Hizbullah group.

Thursday's strike comes in the context of growing tension over which forces will take on IS in Syria's east.

President Bashar al-Assad's army is trying to prevent U.S.-backed forces from leading that fight.

Comments 7
Missing mohammad_ca 19 May 2017, 23:01

Lol @ not be intimidated. This is a message to all pro aSSad goons. ASSad will not defend you just like he has never defended Syria against Israeli occupation or attacks for decades.

Thumb s.o.s 19 May 2017, 23:07

God bless the Coalition forces, King Salman and president Trump our heroes.

Thumb liberty 20 May 2017, 02:15

Hezbollah forgot what it is like to receive deadly bombs from the skies above. This was a reminder to the terrorist iranian militia who is boss.

Thumb ___flamethrower___ 20 May 2017, 15:43

luuulllz @flame.yyyesss

Thumb warrior 20 May 2017, 02:55

The convoy hit was called immam Ali Brigade:)

Thumb enterprise 20 May 2017, 06:08

These hezbollah iranian criminals are only good at massacring civilians. They have enjoyed Russian and Syrian air support and thought they were invincible. Great to see them get a taste of U.S air strikes.

More fertilizer is good for the soil.

Thumb gigahabib 20 May 2017, 19:03

The exact same Iraqi militias are fighting ISIL in Iraq with American support, but when they are in Syria, they are too close to Israel for them to be tolerated.