US retaliates after Syria’s ‘unprovoked’ attack; more than 100 Assad forces dead

US retaliates after Syria’s ‘unprovoked’ attack; more than 100 Assad forces dead
Syrian civilians check the site of an airstrike on Thursday in the rebel-held enclave of Jisreen in the Eastern Ghouta near Damascus. The death toll from Syrian regime air strike on the rebel-held enclave rose to 36, a monitor said. Ten children and seven women were among Thursday's victims. (Amer Almohibany/AFP/Getty Images)

Pro-Assad forces barraged a U.S.-backed military base in eastern Syria Wednesday, in what officials have called an “unprovoked” attack, prompting retaliatory airstrikes that left more than 100 pro-Assad soldiers dead, the BBC reported Thursday.

Col. Thomas Veale, a spokesman for the Inherent Resolve coalition told reporters that the attack on Syrian Democratic Forces, the U.S.-backed coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters, appeared to be coordinated and occurred in Khusham, Syria.

According to Veale, the pro-Assad forces — about 500 fighters — began the attack by firing 122mm artillery pieces at SDF headquarters, followed by artillery fire and rounds from Soviet-era tanks.

Veale added, “After 20-30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 meters of the SDF headquarters location, [SDF] supported by the coalition targeted the aggressors with a combination of air and artillery strikes.”

Veale clarified that the military action “was taken in self-defense,” adding that U.S. forces did not attack vehicles or soldiers as they fled.

Officials could not say whether Russia, which has allied with Assad and led pro-government airstrikes, was involved in the attack.

In a statement, officials from the SDF defended the actions and reiterated the coalition’s mission: battling the Islamic State.

“The coalition remains committed to focusing on the defeat-Daesh mission in the Middle Euphrates River Valley and asserts its non-negotiable right to act in self-defense,” the officials said.

According to the Washington Post, no U.S. troops were injured or killed. One SDF member was injured. 

There are roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria.